Trump's COVID diagnosis prompts his campaign to go virtual

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s campaign announced that it is postponing some events and moving others to a virtual format, a recognition that the president’s coronavirus diagnosis will require him to quarantine and avoid public settings.

Trump had been restless throughout the spring and summer, eager to return to the kinds of rallies that marked his 2016 presidential campaign. But with the late-night revelation that he had contracted the coronavirus and was experiencing “mild symptoms,” it is unclear when — if at all — he will stand before a campaign crowd again.

“All previously announced campaign events involving the President’s participation are in the process of being moved to virtual events or are being temporarily postponed,” campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement. He said other members of the Trump family who had planned on campaigning for the president would also abide by these changes.

Stepien, who recently moved to the campaign from the White House to revive what some said was a disorganized and unfocused operation, said future events would be considered “on a case-by-case basis,” but did not provide any details on what that meant.

Trump returned to campaigning in late June with a rally in Tulsa, Okla., which was sparsely attended because of coronavirus fears. Among those who did attend was Herman Cain, the businessman and former Republican candidate for president. He subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus and died.

Vice President Mike Pence will continue to campaign while Trump remains quarantined in the White House.

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania on September 26, 2020. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
President Trump at a campaign rally in Middletown, Pa., on Sept. 26. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Trump had tried to move past the coronavirus in recent days, declaring on Monday that the United States was “rounding the corner” on its handling of the pandemic. He hoped to motivate his base with his nomination of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, while strafing his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, with accusations of incipient socialism.

But now that he is sick himself and unable to campaign in person, Trump will almost certainly be forced to confront, at length, the “invisible enemy” he has so desperately tried to attenuate as a political issue.


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