BY: EMILY SHAPIRO AND MICHELLE STODDART, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump delivered remarks from the White House Saturday in his first in-person event since he tested positive for coronavirus.
He quickly took off his make as appeared on the balcony shortly before 2 p.m. as the crowd of several hundred cheered and chanted “USA! USA!”
In his approximately 18-minute speech, Trump said a COVID-19 vaccine “is coming out very very quickly” in “record time.”
Trump, who was diagnosed on Oct. 1 and spent several days in the hospital, said COVID-19 will “disappear,” again referring to it as the “China virus.”
“We’re producing powerful therapies and drugs and we’re healing the sick and we’re going to recover,” Trump claimed.
More than 213,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 7.6 million in the U.S. have been diagnosed. An ABC News analysis of COVID-19 trends across all states as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico found there were increases in newly confirmed cases over the past two weeks in 28 states.
The public has not been made aware of any negative COVID-19 test taken by the president since his Oct. 1 diagnosis. Close-up photos of the president’s right hand on Saturday showed flesh-color bandages.
Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s personal physician, opened the door for the president to hold public events saying in a press release Thursday night that, “Saturday will be day 10 since” Trump’s diagnosis.
The gathering was held on the South Lawn of the White House in conjunction with a previously planned event organized by conservative activist Candace Owens, whose campaign, BLEXIT, urges Black Americans to leave the Democratic Party.
“Every day more Black and Latino Americans are leaving behind left-wing politicians and their failed ideology,” Trump said, speaking from the White House balcony as a sea of supporters cheered below.
Those watching Trump from the White House lawn wore red MAGA hats and blue BLEXIT t-shirts. They were not socially distanced.
At a certain point, the racially diverse crowd began chanting “We love you!” and Trump answered back, “I love you too.”
In the campaign-style speech, the president hit on familiar topics, from election fraud to Democrats’ management of cities.
Trump attacked Democratic nominee Joe Biden, falsely claiming he is a socialist.
Trump urged the crowd to vote, calling this year “this is the single most important election in the history of our country.”
With just days separating the president from his stay at Walter Reed Medical Center, experts fear this type of event threatens to exacerbate the crisis already engulfing the White House and further spread the disease. On Wednesday, ABC News reported that the coronavirus outbreak had infected “34 White House staffers and other contacts” in recent days, citing an internal government memo. At least 14 people who attended a Sept. 26 Rose Garden event have tested positive for COVID-19.
For Saturday’s event, all attendees were instructed to bring a mask, a source familiar with the planning of the event told ABC News. The attendees were expected to have their temperature checked and fill out a brief questionnaire, the source added.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was seen on the driveway at the event wearing a mask. Trump’s medical adviser Dr. Scott Atlas was seen on the grass without a mask.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.