The US presidential campaign is set to gear up again this week, as President Donald Trump aggressively returns to the trail after his doctor declared him no longer a risk of coronavirus transmission.
In an interview aired on Fox News on Sunday, Trump said he no longer has COVID-19, adding it “looks like I’m immune” to the coronavirus. He did not say whether he had tested negative.
The statement comes a day after Trump’s physician, Dr Sean Conley, said the president had taken a test on Saturday showing he was no longer “a transmission risk to others”, and there was no longer evidence “of actively replicating virus”.
The White House at the time did not say whether Conley’s statement meant Trump had actually tested negative for the coronavirus.
To date, the White House has also not released when Trump last tested negative for the virus before his positive test, making the timeline of his infection unclear.
Trump has not travelled since he announced on October 2 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. After leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, the president has remained at the White House, where he held his first event on Saturday since the positive test.
During that speech, Trump addressed Black and Latino members of a conservative foundation from a Rose Garden balcony in what was billed as official White House business, and not a campaign event. He declared that the coronavirus, which has killed more than 210,000 US citizens, was “disappearing”.
The president has repeatedly downplayed the virus since leaving the hospital and has been eager to return to the campaign trail as several polls show Biden widening his lead nationally to double digits. Biden also remains ahead in polling averages of key battleground states, with more than five-point lead averages in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Trump has rallies planned in Florida on Monday, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, and Iowa on Wednesday, despite repeated criticism that such gatherings may further spread the virus.
Biden warns of ‘chicanery’
The Biden campaign, meanwhile, has sought to capitalise on Trump’s absence, visiting Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania last week.
On Saturday, Biden, while speaking in Pennsylvania, said “the only way” he could lose to Trump was through malfeasance at the polls, an apparent reference to the Trump campaign’s plans to deploy thousands of “poll watchers” to sites across the country.
The president has also repeatedly cast doubt on voting by mail, suggesting it is ripe for fraud, despite no evidence to suggest that.
“Make sure to vote because the only way we lose this is by the chicanery going on relative to polling places,” Biden told supporters.
Before leaving the state, Biden later clarified that his comments did not mean he would refuse the outcome of the election. Trump has so far not committed to accepting the results.
“I’m going to accept the outcome of this election, period,” said Biden.
The former vice president will have a Town Hall on Thursday hosted by ABC News in lieu of the second presidential debate.
That debate was cancelled after the Trump campaign refused plans to have the candidates participate remotely.