Washington (CNN)Awaking at home Tuesday after a weekend spent in hospital, President Donald Trump offered no indication his serious bout with coronavirus had changed his perceptions of a disease that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.
Instead, Trump signaled he was itching for a return to the campaign trail — even though the virus is ripping through his staff — as he mulled delivering an address to the nation, perhaps as early as later in the day.
“I anticipate you will hear from him at some point today,” communications director Alyssa Farah — one of the few aides who arrived to work in person on Tuesday — told reporters at the White House.
With the West Wing largely vacant because staffers keep testing positive, Trump was isolating in the White House residence, where temporary office facilities have been stood up adjacent to the building’s basement medical suite.
Just as he did inside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump has focused intently on the presidential campaign, which culminates less than a month. He received bad news on Tuesday when a CNN poll conducted by SSRS showed him trailing rival Joe Biden by 16 points, the widest margin of the race so far.
“Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!! The Fake News only shows the Fake Polls,” Trump wrote afterward. It remained unclear what Trump’s return to the trail might look like; the lingering effects of Covid can leave patients exhausted for months and it wasn’t clear what appetite remains for large mask-less rallies after Trump and his inner-circle all contracted the virus.
Doctors were continuing to monitor Trump’s vital signs and he was expected to receive an intravenous dose of the antiviral remdesivir on Tuesday evening. His physicians had revealed over the weekend that Trump’s oxygen levels dropped worrying low and that he had required supplemental oxygen.
The President met with a “team of physicians” at the residence on Tuesday morning after a “restful first night at home,” a statement from his physician Dr. Sean Conley read. “Vital signs and physical exam remain stable, with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95-97%.”
“Overall he continues to do extremely well,” Conley added. “I will provide updates as we know more.”
Unlike the previous three days, were no briefings scheduled from Conley on Tuesday. He has repeatedly refused to answer questions about when Trump last tested negative, how high his fever became or the results of his lung scan, which he would only say were “expected.”
Trump appeared to be breathing with some difficulty on Monday evening after he mounted the South Portico steps to pose for cameras while saluting his Marine One helicopter. A White House official and a separate source close to the White House said there remain lingering health concerns, even after Trump returned home.
“He may not entirely be out of the woods yet,” Conley, told reporters at Walter Reed on Monday.
Nevertheless, the President has been active on Twitter, declaring he would be attending next week’s presidential debate in Miami, despite his still-uncertain prognosis and the potential he could still be contagious by then.
“FEELING GREAT!” he wrote in another tweet.
And as he did at the very beginning of the pandemic, Trump compared coronavirus to the flu, minimizing its risks and suggesting the country would need to learn to live with them.
“Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu,” he wrote, echoing claims he made last spring that were almost immediately shot down by health experts, who say seasonal influenza is less deadly than coronavirus.
“Are we going to close down our Country?” he added. “No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”
It was a striking message for a man who, 48 hours earlier, declared he now “understood” the virus after contracting it and suffering some of its more serious symptoms.
It provided a good idea of what Trump’s message might be should he decide to address the nation, a prospect which is being seriously considered, according to a White House official.
“He certainly does want to address the nation at some point. But in terms of timing of that, certainly no plans as of today, but I think they’re always fast moving so should that change, we’ll be sure to let you know,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during an appearance on Fox Business. She phoned into the network from home, where she is convalescing after a coronavirus diagnosis.
McEnany is one of more than a dozen members of Trump’s circle who have tested positive, including his wife, senior adviser, campaign manager, former counsellor, personal assistance, two press aides, three Republican senators and, over the weekend, a military aide with direct access to the President.
The top US general, Gen. Mark Milley, and several members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were also quarantining after a top Coast Guard official tested positive for coronavirus, several US defense officials told CNN.
Trump has offered no indication he has learned anything from experience. When he returned to the White House on Monday, he posed for the photo-op on the South Portico after peeling off his mask and stuffing it into his pocket.
In a video taped afterward, he said the disease was nothing to worry about.
“Don’t be afraid of it,” Trump said of coronavirus. “You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines.”
The message was received poorly by medical experts and even some of Trump’s allies, who wondered why he was continuing to downplay a virus that required him to be airlifted from the White House to a hospital.
“I think he let his guard down, and I think in his desire to try to demonstrate that we are somehow coming out of this and that the danger is not still with us — I think he got out over his skis,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told the Houston Chronicle editorial board.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, Barbara Starr, Joe Johns, Betsy Klein, Manu Raju, Peter Morris and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.