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Trump heads to Florida for first rally since coronavirus diagnosis

US President Donald Trump headed to Florida on Monday, returning to the campaign trail for his first official rally since he contracted the coronavirus.

“Leaving now for Florida Rally. Big crowds!” Trump tweeted as he left for the state, a key battleground in the November 3 election.

Photos showed the president without a face mask as he boarded his plane in Washington. The event is to be held outdoors at an airport.

While Trump has been cleared to hold rallies by his physician, public health guidelines indicate he might still need to remain in isolation to ensure he does not spread the coronavirus.

As Trump was on his way to Florida, his spokeswoman released a statement by his doctor saying he had tested negative for the coronavirus “on consecutive days,” without providing further details on timing.

Data and guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “have informed our medical team’s assessment that the President is not infectious to others,” Sean Conley said in the memo.

The president is set to hold further major events this week with supporters, including in Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina.

The US government’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, told broadcaster CNN on Monday that holding major rallies was “asking for trouble,” noting rising caseloads of coronavirus, with a seven-day rolling average of new infections back at around the 50,000 mark.

On Saturday, Trump addressed hundreds of supporters from the White House balcony during his first in-person event since testing positive for the coronavirus.
The crowd did not appear to practice social distancing, although many supporters wore masks.

Trump, 74, disclosed on October 2 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and spent three nights in hospital for treatment.

There was an outbreak at the White House which may have infected dozens, including many of the president’s closest aides.

Trump is trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the polls, and the gap is widening. The Democrat was also on the campaign trail on Monday, and is looking to make inroads into states Trump won handily in 2016, including Ohio.

Biden is out-raising and out-spending Trump on campaign ads, while the president seems to be pinning his hopes on his rallies as he seeks to boost enthusiasm among his base and turn out the vote.

Biden has often criticized Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 7.7 million people in the United States and led to over 214,900 deaths.

“President Trump comes to Sanford [Florida] today bringing nothing but reckless behaviour, divisive rhetoric, and fear mongering,” Biden said in a Monday statement.

“But, equally dangerous is what he fails to bring: no plan to get this virus that has taken the lives of over 15,000 Floridians under control.”

Trump has tried to shift voters’ attention away from the virus, something his own diagnosis made more difficult.

Earlier on Monday, he blasted a group of protestors as “animals,”, while urging law enforcement to crack down on demonstrations that included the destruction of property.

“Put these animals in jail, now,” Trump said, in one of several early morning tweets.

The president has tried to depict himself as a leader of law and order, following a summer that saw sustained protests against police brutality and racism. Some of the protests at times turned violent.

Trump will likely also seek to capitalize on the ongoing nomination hearings of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court, appealing to conservatives.

GNA
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RiddimsGhana

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