WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — President Donald Trump gave his first on-camera interview Friday night since his COVID-19 diagnosis.
During the conversation, Trump said his most prominent symptoms battling the coronavirus were that he “didn’t feel very strong… more weakness than anything else.” He told Siegel that he didn’t have a problem with breathing, and felt well Friday.
Information from the White House on the president's condition has been vague, including if he's tested negative.
Trump told Siegel he's been retested but hadn't received "numbers or anything yet."
"I know I’m at either the bottom of the scale or free,” Trump said, adding that he didn’t know when his next test would be. "Probably tomorrow... they test every couple of days I guess.”
Trump says he doesn’t know where he got the virus but said, “They had some big events at the White House, perhaps there. I don’t really know, nobody really knows for sure.”
More than two dozen people linked to the White House have contracted COVID-19 since the president's Sept. 26 event announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court. Two weeks after his Rose Garden event that has been labeled a “superspreader” for the virus, Trump is planning to convene another large crowd outside the White House on Saturday for what his administration calls “a peaceful protest for law & order.”
When asked if he would donate convalescent plasma, which involves using antibody-rich blood from survivors to treat others, the president said he “would love to do it.”
Trump was discharged from Walter Reed military hospital days ago, where he received experimental treatments and ventured out for a drive-by wave to supporters outside. Trump said on Fox News that he could hear and feel their love from his hospital room and was “very glad I did it.”
The president was setting out to get his campaign back on track Friday, a week after he was sidelined with the coronavirus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.
As questions linger about his health, Trump began speaking directly to voters, on the radio, less than four weeks from Election Day, and he eyed a return to travel as soon as Monday. The president has not been seen in public — other than in White House-produced videos — since his return from the hospital.
Trump on Friday also held what his campaign billed as a “radio rally” as he dialed in to the show of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. Despite public and private surveys showing him trailing Democrat Joe Biden, Trump predicted a greater victory in 2020 than four years ago.
While Trump said he believes he’s no longer contagious, concerns about infection appeared to scuttle plans for next week’s presidential debate.
“My voice is now perfect," he told Limbaugh.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says individuals can discontinue isolation 10 days after the onset of symptoms, which for Trump was Oct. 1, according to his doctors. His doctor, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, said that meant Trump, who has been surrounded by minimal staffing as he works out of the White House residence and the Oval Office, could return to holding events on Saturday.
He added that Trump was showing no evidence of his illness progressing or adverse reactions to the aggressive course of therapy prescribed by his doctors.
While reports of reinfection are rare, the CDC recommends that even people who recover from COVID-19 continue to wear masks, stay distanced and follow other precautions. It was unclear if Trump, who refused mask-wearing in most settings, would abide by that guidance.
In the interview with Limbaugh, Trump again credited the experimental antibody drug he received last week with speeding his recovery.
“I was not in the greatest of shape," he said. "A day later I was fine.” He promised to expedite distribution of the drug to Americans in need, though that requires action by the Food and Drug Administration.
He speculated to Limbaugh that without the drug, "I might not have recovered at all.”
There is no way to know how the drug affected his progression with the virus.