News World Trump fever-free and ‘working’ as White House continues damage control
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Trump fever-free and ‘working’ as White House continues damage control

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A contagious Donald Trump is stuck in lockdown and grasping for ways to kick along his election campaign from behind White House doors.

Key to his strategy? Appearing unfazed by the virus that has so far killed more than 200,000 Americans. And tweeting.

On Thursday morning (Australian time), the president’s doctor said Mr Trump had told White House medical staff he was feeling “great” and had no coronavirus symptoms.

Dr Sean Conley also said Mr Trump had been fever-free for four days and had not needed supplemental oxygen since leaving hospital. He offered no further details about how the 74-year-old was being treated.

The brief statement marks the second day the medical team has not faced media to be asked questions about Mr Trump’s condition.

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters “the president continues to work”.

“He’s in very good health; we are pleased with his progress,” Mr Meadows said.

With more time on his hands, and no (safe) chance of facing a press conference himself, Mr Trump is tweeting even more than usual – at one point, 15 times in 30 minutes.

On Thursday morning he declared “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE REAL OPPOSITION PARTY”.

Donald Trump waves upon return to the White House. Photo: Getty

He also took shots at Senator Kamala Harris ahead of her debate with Vice President Mike Pence.

“She is far further left than Crazy Bernie. Biden would not last a month!” Mr Trump wrote.

Aides told AAP the president is impatient to get back on the campaign trail and continues to insist he will debate Joe Biden in Miami on October 15. His opponent is worried about the potential health impacts.

“I think if he still has Covid, we shouldn’t have a debate,” Mr Biden said.

The impact of the virus has hit home for Mr Trump, with a coronavirus cluster at the White House spreading to at least 23 people so far.

But by taking off his mask for cameras upon his return from hospital and driving in a motorcade while infectious, the president has fuelled fear he is not taking the threat to Americans seriously.

Rather, he has appeared determined to depict himself as a strong man who can overcome the illness.

“Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life,” he said in a widely criticised tweet.

Tell that to the people he may have infected.

White House in damage control

The latest confirmed positive test linked to Mr Trump includes the president’s chief speechwriter Stephen Miller.

Utah senator Mike Lee, megachurch pastor Greg Laurie and photojournalist Al Drago are among at least 10 others who do not work for the President but have been linked to the growing cluster.

Senior figures in the US military are also in quarantine.

Pictures released on Wednesday show workers dressed in hazmat suits spraying disinfectant in the press briefing room in the West Wing of the Oval Office.

Melania Trump’s office released a statement that said the White House has adopted hospital-grade disinfection policies since March.

The Medical Unit has also led “coronavirus workshops” for staff to address any concerns, the official statement reads.

It also claims to have significantly reduced the number of staff present at the White House, and “encouraged maximum teleworking”.

“The residence also installed additional sanitisation and filtration systems throughout the executive mansion,” the statement further reads.

In March, each person who worked at the White House received sanitisation and filtration systems for their homes to “further protect them and their family members”.

Then at the start of April, staff were told they had to wear masks at all times, the First Lady’s office said.

“Residence staff in direct contact with the First Family are tested daily, with support staff tested every 48 hours,” their statement continued.

There are few details on exactly how the Trumps have been quarantining at the White House and whether they’ve been isolating together or apart since the President was discharged from hospital.

The President is known to reside on the second floor of the White House, which every First Family has traditionally occupied.

In the 2019 book Melania, Free: The Unauthorized Biography by Kate Bennett, she is said to reside on the third floor.

The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that infected people should stay in a room away from other household members and use a separate bathroom where possible.

Lack of contact tracing

Much of the focus has been on where Mr Trump contracted the virus, and where it has spread – given his busy schedule the week he returned a positive result.

The First Lady had also been keeping up appearances, but there is little hope officials will invest resources into finding out who she may have infected.

Of particular concern is a White House military-themed ceremony that she and the President attended the week before they were diagnosed with COVID-19.

The families of 40 fallen US soldiers were present, but she nor any other attendees can be seen wearing a face mask or social distancing, according to photos posted on her Instagram.

The Trumps were pictured bunched close together with guests in the East Room. No one was wearing a face covering.

Then on September 27, more than 200 people packed into the White House to celebrate Amy Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination.

At least eight attendees at the crowded Rose Garden event have since tested positive for COVID-19, but the White House has decided not to conduct contact tracing.

It has instead sought to track down those who came into close contact with Mr Trump in the two days before his coronavirus diagnosis, the New York Times reported.

The White House had earlier rejected an offer from the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) to investigate the growing virus cluster involving at least 18 mostly prominent Republicans. 

The CDC has been offering to help with contract tracing efforts since Mr Trump’s diagnosis was disclosed last week, USA Today reports.

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