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The Latest On President Trump's Condition After Testing Positive For The Coronavirus


Before President Trump left for Walter Reed Medical Center last night, he posted a video on Twitter in which he thanked people for their well wishes. His diagnosis has added more chaos to a White House already dealing with a pandemic and an economic crisis. It has also upended the presidential campaign, Election Day now just a month away. NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe joins us. Ayesha, thanks so much for being with us.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: What's the latest on the president's condition?

RASCOE: The president is now staying at Walter Reed Hospital. The White House says he'll be there for a few days and that it's out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of his physician. Late last night, the president's physician sent out a note saying that Trump was, quote, "doing very well" and had started a treatment called remdesivir. Trump also tweeted last night, quote, "going well, I think." He was seen yesterday walking from the White House to Marine One, wearing a suit, walking normally. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said he plans to work from the presidential suite at the hospital.

There aren't many details beyond that, and the White House hasn't really elaborated on what symptoms Trump has or when they started. The New York Times reported that he had a mild fever and a cough. We also know that Trump has received an infusion of an experimental drug made by Regeneron that has shown some promise but is still under review.

SIMON: What do we now know about how widespread this could be within Trump's circle?

RASCOE: We learned of two new positives last night. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien has tested positive, as well as Trump's former close adviser Kellyanne Conway. Conway was at the White House last Saturday. Hope Hicks is positive - Trump's close adviser. Obviously, first lady Melania Trump has also tested positive. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that core staff have been tested and that they're negative, including himself, Jared Kushner. And now Vice President Pence has also tested negative.

But Trump had been actively traveling, attending events. He held an event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on Saturday. That's where Conway was, and a number of people who attended that event have now tested positive, including Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Senator Mike Lee of Utah and others. Trump was also at the debate on Tuesday in Cleveland. And there was a New Jersey fundraiser on Thursday that Trump went to even though Hicks had tested positive.

SIMON: And, of course, we're just a month from Election Day. What do you think the presidential campaign might look like in the weeks ahead?

RASCOE: You know, voting has already started, and we are one month out from Election Day. Right now, Trump's campaign is on hold. He had been doing these big rallies, but now the campaign says that it's postponing all of the president's in-person events in light of him testing positive. The campaign says that some of the events will be moved online as the president recovers from the virus.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is continuing his events. He had just gotten back on the trail after spending a long time just doing virtual events. And there are two presidential debates scheduled after that. We don't necessarily know their status.

SIMON: President Trump, Ayesha, has not exactly been a vocal supporter of wearing masks. Any sign that coronavirus procedures are going to change around the White House, in the Capitol as a result of his diagnosis?

RASCOE: There were some White House staffers wearing masks yesterday. Trump was in a mask yesterday when he walked out to Marine One. But there's been no change to rules. And some prominent members of the administration, like Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Larry Kudlow, who is the economic adviser, were still not wearing masks. In Congress right now, there are calls for more testing because you had those two Republican senators, Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, you know, coming up positive after having been at the White House.

SIMON: NPR's White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe, thanks so much for being with us.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe
Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
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