- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 6, 2020

President Trump is relying on top-flight care and pioneering antibody drugs to fend off the coronavirus, but he’s like everyone else in one respect — he has been forced to work from home.

Stuck in the White House residence, Mr. Trump is campaigning by tweet and barking out orders from his sickbed and rooms that have morphed into a makeshift Oval Office during his convalescence. He told Republican lawmakers on Tuesday to push economic-stimulus talks until after the November elections and lobbed attacks at his presidential rival, Joseph R. Biden, saying the Democratic nominee is receiving soft treatment by the media.

The president remained out of view in doing so, but his doctor, Sean P. Conley, offered good news. He said Mr. Trump reported no symptoms of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The president’s vital signs and oxygen levels are stable after a “restful” first night at home following a three-day stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to Dr. Conley.

“Overall he continues to do extremely well,” the doctor wrote in a Tuesday memo.

Mr. Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus late Thursday, making them the most visible part of a wide cluster of cases at the White House.

The White House said it is taking extreme precautions, from issuing personal protective equipment to all residence staff and testing them daily to hiring health policy consultants who allow employees to air their concerns anonymously.

Mr. Trump started his workday with a bang, attacking Mr. Biden’s record on abortion in morning tweets and comparing COVID-19 to the flu, even as the coronavirus claims 210,000 American lives and counting.

“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with COVID, in most populations far less lethal!!!” he tweeted Tuesday.

The president also compared the coronavirus to the flu in February, despite privately telling author Bob Woodward the new pathogen was worse.

The flu typically causes between 12,000 and 60,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.

Scientists have said the overall death rate from the coronavirus is likely around .05%, compared to about .01% for the flu.

“We can argue about the numbers, but I think there isn’t any doubt the majority opinion out there — among the infectious-disease and public-health community — is the coronavirus spreads more readily than the flu, at least among adults. And the other [thing] is that yes, it is more fatal,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.

Twitter flagged Mr. Trump’s post, citing rules against “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19,” though users could still access it.

Mr. Trump is putting a brave face on his recovery. He turned his return to the White House Monday evening into a made-for-TV moment, climbing the portico stairs and taking off his mask and saluting before entering the residence.

Some pundits said the president may have gotten a boost from his prescribed steroid, dexamethasone, though the reality is unclear.

“Steroids can indeed make you not only better, but feel better, because they’re designed to dampen the inflammatory response. They can also — and this has been a bit overplayed in the media, but it’s true — make you feel better in your mind,” Dr. Schaffner said. “It doesn’t always happen. I don’t know whether it’s had too big of an impact here or not.”

It is common for doctors treating COVID-19 patients to use remdesivir or, in some cases, dexamethasone, though Mr. Trump was unique in that he was also able to access monoclonal antibodies from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which are still in clinical trials.

“What the president received is well-known at all major medical centers in this country. You’ll get everything the president got except the initial experimental cocktail of antibodies,” Dr. Schaffner said.

Federal guidelines say people who show symptoms, as Mr. Trump did last week, should isolate themselves for 10 days. That would bring Mr. Trump’s expected isolation to the start of next week.

Mr. Trump said Tuesday he plans to be at the second presidential debate in Florida.

“I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!” he tweeted.

As Mr. Trump tried to move on, Democrats demanded answers on the outbreak at the White House and within the president’s inner circle, accusing top officials of acting in an “opaque and secretive” manner.

In a letter to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, asked the administration to detail efforts to trace contacts of those who attended Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s official Supreme Court nomination event on Sept. 26 and then tested positive for the coronavirus.

“As this outbreak continues to grow, it is critical that the public and those who may have been exposed have access to accurate and transparent information,” the senators wrote.

“The opaque and secretive handling of information related to these events constitutes an obvious threat to public health and is unacceptable in a free nation whose elected leaders must be transparent with and accountable to the American people,” they said.

Mr. Schumer and Mrs. Murray also want a timeline of the outbreak among those in the White House as well as details on the health guidance given to staff members.

Beyond the first couple, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, senior White House adviser Stephen Miller and Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien tested positive, along with a pair of senators who attended the Barrett event. Several other White House aides and a few journalists have tested positive, plus a military aide to Mr. Trump.

Vice President Mike Pence released a memo from doctors that said he “has remained healthy” and tested negative for the coronavirus in daily antigen tests and intermittent “PCR” tests, which are considered more sensitive.

The vice president traveled Tuesday through Thursday of last week but stayed home on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as a precaution.

The doctors said Mr. Pence is not considered a close contact of the president or other White House cases, given the course of their infections, and does not need to quarantine.

Mr. Pence is set to debate Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris in Salt Lake City Wednesday night.

Gabriella Muñoz and Ryan Lovelace contributed to this report.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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