Trump likely remains infectious for COVID-19 — and may still be for the next debate with Biden

Despite having been discharged from Walter Reed hospital on Monday night, President Trump likely remains infectious for COVID-19 and could continue to be so for the next scheduled debate with former Vice President Joe Biden.

That fact didn’t stop Trump from declaring on Tuesday that he would travel to Miami on Oct. 15 to square off against Biden.

On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lays out the timeline for how long a COVID-19 patient continues to shed the virus, potentially infecting others.

“Available data indicate that persons with mild to moderate COVID-19 remain infectious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset,” the CDC states. “Persons with more severe to critical illness or severe immunocompromise likely remain infectious no longer than 20 days after symptom onset.”

While Trump’s medical team has given mixed messages on the severity of his illness, often painting a sunny picture of it, experts say the facts that he was prescribed steroids and experienced repeated oxygen level drops over the course of his treatment indicate that he is suffering from a severe case of the disease.

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Duluth, Minn. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Trump at a campaign rally in Duluth, Minn., on Sept. 30. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

On Monday, Dr. Sean Conley refused to answer questions on when Trump’s last negative test was recorded. Knowing that information could better help determine whether the president should still be considered infectious for COVID-19 on Oct. 15.

With his reelection campaign struggling, Trump has been eager to be seen as having returned to work, including a push on Tuesday to be allowed to go to the Oval Office despite his infectious condition, Bloomberg reported.

In addition to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two White House employees on the cleaning staff, three staffers who work for McEnany have so far tested positive for COVID-19. At least nine guests and two journalists who attended the Rose Garden ceremony where Trump introduced his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett have tested positive for the disease caused by exposure to the coronavirus. That cluster is more than the total number of new cases reported in Taiwan over the last week, the Washington Post reported.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Conley released a memo in which he stated that Trump “reports no symptoms” of COVID-19 and that his “vital signs and physical exam remain stable.” But Conley had said Monday that Trump was “not out of the woods yet” in his fight against the disease, which has so far killed more than 210,000 Americans.

As for next week’s debate, many questions remain as to whether it will still be held. The Commission on Presidential Debates is weighing options to hold it outdoors, should both the Biden and Trump campaigns agree to participate, the New York Times reported.

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Tuesday that the campaign would leave the decision about whether the president is able to travel to the debate in Miami to his medical team. But it is hard to imagine Trump being talked out of attending it.

The CPD, meanwhile, offered no further clarity on whether it would require the candidates to undergo tests for COVID-19 prior to the debate. At the first debate, Trump ignored that CPD request, arriving too late to the venue in Cleveland to be tested. Biden and his wife, Jill, meanwhile, both tested negative.


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