At his first campaign rally since being diagnosed and hospitalized with Covid-19, President Donald Trump late Monday delivered a characteristically deranged and lie-filled speech to a closely packed and largely maskless crowd of supporters in Sanford, Florida, a state that reported more than 5,500 new coronavirus cases just 24 hours earlier.
Apparently eager to project an appearance of good health with less than a month to go before the November election, Trump—his voice sometimes sounding hoarse—said he feels "so powerful" and, voicing no concern for the well-being of others, boasted that he could walk into the crowd and "kiss everyone" without any health consequences.
"One thing with me, the nice part: I went through it, now they say I'm immune," Trump baselessly claimed on the same day scientists confirmed the first case of coronavirus reinfection in the United States.
"I'll walk into that audience. I'll walk in there, I'll kiss everyone in that audience. I'll kiss the guys and the beautiful women... I'll just give ya a big fat kiss," said Trump, who continues to flout basic public health guidelines and downplay the virus that has killed more than 214,000 people in the U.S.
On Sunday, Twitter flagged as "misleading and potentially harmful" Trump's tweet declaring he is "immune" from Covid-19 and "can't give it."
"They say I'm immune. I feel so powerful. I'll watch into that audience, I'll walk in there, kiss everyone in that audience. I'll kiss the guys and the beautiful women." -- Trump pic.twitter.com/JvhmagVrVA
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 12, 2020
"Never forget that when given a chance to remove this man, 247 of 248 Republican senators and reps voted to keep Trump in office," Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) tweeted in response to the president's remarks.
Ahead of Trump's Florida campaign event, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said early Monday evening that the president has tested negative for Covid-19 on consecutive days, citing the results of a rapid test that public health experts warned is not sufficiently reliable. The president's medical team and White House officials have repeatedly refused to say when Trump's last negative test was before he tested positive earlier this month.
"It doesn't make much sense in my mind that they should be using the BinaxNOW test for this," Dr. Michael Mina, an infectious disease expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the New York Times.
Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and senior fellow at the Federation of American scientists, pointed to Food and Drug Administration guidance stating that negative results from the BinaxNOW test "do not rule out" coronavirus infection and "should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions, including infection control decisions."
Trump's Florida rally came shortly after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a CNN interview that the president is "asking for trouble" by resuming in-person rallies as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise across the country.
"We've seen that when you have situations of congregate settings where there are a lot of people without masks, the data speak for themselves," said Fauci. "It happens. And now is even more so a worse time to do that, because when you look at what's going on in the United States, it's really very troublesome."