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Trump back at White House after Covid-19 treatment at Walter Reed

Here are the latest updates on President Donald Trump's coronavirus diagnosis.

President Donald Trump has returned to the White House after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he had been receiving treatment for Covid-19 since Friday. He immediately took off his mask to pose for pictures before walking into the building.

The highly choreographed moment on the Truman Balcony on Monday evening came hours after Trump suggested online that the disease is not that serious a threat. White House physician Sean Conley said in a briefing with reporters after Trump tweeted that he was leaving the hospital that the president had "met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria."

Meanwhile, Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn said that Trump "let his guard down" on Covid-19, telling the Houston Chronicle's editorial board, "I think in his desire to try to demonstrate that we are somehow coming out of this and that the danger is not still with us — I think he got out over his skis."

Pence pulls plug on plexiglass protest

After being at odds with Sen. Harris over the plexiglass barriers, he appeared to have backed off this first debate battle.

A Pence aide says they’ve inquired with the debate commission as to a medical or scientific need for a barrier are waiting for an answer.

But Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley said that “most importantly, the vice president is looking forward to debating" and if such a barrier is a need for the Harris team, they won’t object.

According to a White House official, Pence did not want a plexiglass divider on his side of the stage for the Salt Lake City, Utah, debate on Wednesday. Harris had requested the plastic barrier as a safety measure because of Pence’s potential exposure to President Donald Trump, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week.

Two plexiglass barriers had been installed on the debate stage: one next to the desk where Pence will sit and one next to Harris’ desk.

Click here for the full story. 

Stephen Miller, top White House adviser, is self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus

Hallie Jackson

Dartunorro Clark

Hallie Jackson and Dartunorro Clark

Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to President Trump has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating, a senior administration official told NBC News on Tuesday.

Miller, who has been regularly traveling with the president, is the latest aide in the Trump orbit to test positive for COVID-19. At least 18 people who work in the White House have tested positive, including Trump. 

The administration official told NBC News that Miller has been working remotely for the last five days and has been self-isolating, testing negative every day through yesterday, per official. Today he tested positive and is in quarantine.

Katie Miller, his wife and Vice President Pence's spokeswoman, tested positive for the virus in May.

Pence, Harris spar over plexiglass barriers at VP debate

Vice President Mike Pence is at odds with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., over the use of plexiglass barriers at Wednesday's vice presidential debate.

According to a White House official, Pence does not want a plexiglass divider on his side of the stage for the Salt Lake City, Utah, debate. Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, had requested the plastic barrier as a safety measure over Pence’s potential exposure to Trump, who tested positive for Covid-19 overnight Thursday. Over a dozen people tied to Trump have since tested positive for the virus since then, though Pence has reported multiple negative test results.

The vice president’s physician released a letter Tuesday stating Pence was not considered a close contact, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as a person who spent 15 minutes or more within six feet of a known positive case. Pence’s doctor concluded he was "encouraged to go about his normal activities and does not need to quarantine."

The Commission on Presidential Debates approved Harris’ request but did not offer any details on where the plexiglass would be placed on the stage.

Read more here.

Another of McEnany's aides tests positive

Hallie Jackson

Peter Alexander and Hallie Jackson

Assistant White House press secretary Jalen Drummond tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday morning, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Drummond becomes the third White House press aide in addition to press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to test positive. Drummond attended the formal Rose Garden ceremony announcing Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court last month. 

'Morally reprehensible': Doctors react to Trump's tweet comparing Covid-19 to flu

Physicians responded with alarm to President Trump's assertion on Twitter that Covid-19 is similar to the flu and that the United States is learning to live with it. The social media site later flagged the tweet with a warning.

"Comparing flu to Covid-19 is not only poor optics," Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, said. "It's just morally reprehensible."

Read what the doctors said.

D.C.-area House Democrats call White House coronavirus outbreak "out of control"

Nicole Via y Rada

Democratic House members who represent the Capital Region on Tuesday called on the White House to provide greater transparency into the “out of control” coronavirus outbreak at the White House. 

“This is no time for publicity stunts that put people at risk, or for playing down the seriousness of this pandemic,” lawmakers said in a statement. “The American people will never trust the Administration to keep them safe if they cannot protect its own staff.”

The delegation represents the District of Columbia and the parts of Maryland and Virginia that surround it. 

They called on Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, to take nine steps — including a commitment to transparency with staff, press and public; contact tracing; face covering and social distancing measures in the White House; and disclosing the total number of positive coronavirus tests among staff. 

14 individuals linked to the White House have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gen. Milley, other members of Joint Chiefs quarantine after admiral tests positive for Covid-19

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and at least three other members of the eight-member Joint Chiefs are quarantining after the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Charles Ray, tested positive for Covid-19, according to three defense officials.

The defense officials said Milley was quarantining at home after Ray tested positive. The officials also said Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten, Gen. John Raymond of the Space Force, and Gen. Charles Q. Brown of the Air Force are also self-quarantining.

Read more on the situation.

Commission discussing holding presidential debates outside

The Commission on Presidential Debates is discussing holding future debates outside, a source familiar with the discussions confirmed to NBC News.

The group announced last week that it would put forward new rules after the chaotic first presidential debate between Trump and Biden but has not announced anything so far.

The remaining presidential debates are scheduled to take place in Miami and Nashville, two relatively warm climates.

Trump's 'reckless' New Jersey fundraiser is under state review


Stephanie Ruhle

Katy Tur

Gary Grumbach, Stephanie Ruhle, Katy Tur and Rich Schapiro

In the hours after a top aide tested positive for COVID-19 last week, President Donald Trump ignored federal health guidelines to quarantine and instead attended a fundraiser in New Jersey, where he spoke — without a mask — to more than 200 supporters.

The event, at Trump’s golf course in the tony town of Bedminster, is now being investigated by state officials looking into whether it violated New Jersey’s COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings.

“That trip was completely unacceptable, completely reckless and uncalled for,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said Monday.

Read more about the state's review.

Older voters flee Trump, solidifying Biden's advantage in the 2020 race

Democrat Joe Biden has extended his advantage in the presidential race in the wake of the first debate and Republican President Donald Trump’s diagnosis and hospital treatment for the coronavirus, fueled by stark shifts among seniors.

National and swing-state polls in the last week show an exodus among voters 65 and older from Trump to Biden, an alarming sign for the president after NBC News exit polls showed he won that crucial Republican-leaning cohort by 8 points in 2016.

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Biden leading Trump by 14 points, his largest advantage ever in the survey. Among seniors 65 and older, Biden led by a startling 27 points, marking a 23-point swing in his direction in one month.

Read the full story.

Michelle Obama thanks White House residence staff, Secret Service after Trump returns home

Nicole Via y Rada

Former first lady Michelle Obama paid tribute to Secret Service and White House residence staff in a video released Tuesday, the day after Trump returned to the White House after being hospitalized for three days with Covid-19.

"My heart goes out to everyone touched by this virus, from those at the White House, especially the Secret Service and residence staff whose service ought never be taken for granted, to all those names and stories most of us will unfortunately never know," Obama said. 

Obama released the 26-minute video on Twitter in support of Joe Biden. She said she debated releasing the video at all but felt the message was pertinent after "the events of the past few days," which she called "a bracing reminder of the tragedy that has been this administration’s response to this crisis."

Former President Barack Obama tweeted in response that the former first lady's video "is as powerful an argument as I’ve heard about the stakes of this election."

Trump has come under fire after his return to the White House, which critics said could threaten potentially put White House residence staff at risk. At least 14 people tied to the president have now tested positive for Covid-19, including his personal aide, a military valet and several members of the White House press team.

Sen. Bernie Sanders rips Trump for using 'socialized medicine'

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday mocked President Trump for taking advantage of "socialized medicine" while getting treated for the coronavirus.

Throughout the 2020 campaign, Trump has repeatedly warned that Democrats and Sanders, an independent from Vermont and an influential former Democratic presidential candidate, would force the country to turn to "socialized medicine," with the government running the health care system. 

Sanders took to Twitter to note the top-notch care Trump received at Walter Reed National Medical Center, a "100% government-funded, government run hospital" and called the president a hypocrite for telling people do as he says, not as he does.  

D.C. gov't says it's been unable to connect with White House for Covid contact tracing

The Associated Press

Officials with the Washington, D.C., Department of Health have been unsuccessful in trying to connect with the White House to assist with contact tracing and other protocols regarding the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak that has infected President Donald Trump and several senior staff members.

“We have reached out to the White House on a couple of different levels, a political level and a public health level,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday. She added that a D.C. health department representative who reached out to the White House “had a very cursory conversation that we don’t consider a substantial contact from the public health side.”

The lack of communication represents an unwelcome obstacle for the D.C. government, which has worked to contain the spread of the virus through mandatory mask requirements and limits on the size of gatherings.

Read the full story.

Cleaning staff spray down White House press briefing room

Image: A member of the White House cleaning staff sprays the press briefing room the evening of U.S. President Donald Trump's return from Walter Reed Medical Center
A member of the White House cleaning staff sprays the press briefing room the evening of U.S. President Donald Trump's return from Walter Reed Medical Center on Oct. 5, 2020.Erin Scott / Reuters

Top Senate Democrats accuse White House of deliberately withholding Covid info

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Health Committee Top Democrat Patty Murray accused the Trump administration of being "opaque and secretive" in providing details surrounding the coronavirus outbreak in the White House. 

In a letter sent on Tuesday to White House chief of stafff Mark Meadows, the Democratic leaders called for a detailed timeline of the outbreak that left Trump and several other aides, senators, and journalists sick with the virus. 

"Despite the risk to those who may have been exposed, the White House has conducted itself in a secretive manner and shown a complete lack of regard for public health and safety," the senators wrote. "critical information about the health of the President and his associates appears to have been deliberately withheld in order to minimize public scrutiny and awareness, and it is still unclear when the President or his advisors first knew there was an outbreak."

There has been confusion surrounding the Trump's condition and timeline of diagnosis. Asked on Monday when Trump’s last negative test was, Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley refused to answer, saying “I don’t want to go backwards."

In addition to a timeline, Murray and Schumer called on Meadows to provide information on what efforts the White House has undertaken to contact others who may have been exposed.

White House physician says Trump 'reports no symptoms,' vital signs 'stable'

NBC News

The White House released a memo from Trump's physician Sean Conley on Tuesday saying the president's "vital signs and physical exam remain stable, with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95-97%. Overall he continues to do extremely well."

Conley, who noted he released the information with Trump's permission, said in the memo that the president "had a restful first night at home, and today he reports no symptoms."

NBC News

For those reeling from Covid losses, Trump comes across as boastful, insensitive

Experience is supposed to be the best teacher, but the lessons of Covid-19 are lost on President Donald Trump.

That, in a nutshell, was the reaction of several still-grieving Americans a day after Trump was released from the hospital and declared, "Don't be afraid of Covid."

"Don’t let it dominate your life," Trump tweeted. "We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"

Read what those who are grieving said.

Trump, battling Covid-19, says he's 'looking forward to' the next presidential debate

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that he is "looking forward to" the second presidential debate even as he continues treatment this week for Covid-19.

"I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami," Trump wrote. "It will be great!"

The president is still battling his Covid-19 infection after first showing symptoms on Thursday, according to the White House. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say people should isolate for 10 days from the point of showing systems, and in severe cases, 20 days.

Asked whether the campaign will comply with testing requirements and any additional health measures for the debate in light of the president’s diagnosis, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh simply responded: "The president intends to participate in person."

Read the full story.

Twitter slaps warning label on misleading Trump tweet, Facebook removes post

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Twitter on Tuesday shielded Trump's tweet comparing Covid-19 to the flu, warning that post was "spreading misleading and potentially harmful information."

"This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19," Twitter said. "However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible."

Separately, Facebook deleted Trump's same comment on its platform.

Trump indicates he will participate in next week's debate

Trump compares Covid to the flu. Experts say he's flat wrong.

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

In a comparison that is disputed by public health officials, President Trump on Tuesday likened the coronavirus to the seasonal flu and said we can learn to live with Covid-19.

"Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu," tweeted the president, who has Covid-19 and returned to the White House on Monday after three days in Walter Reed hospital for treatment. "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!!!"

The number of deaths from the flu cited by Trump is misleading and in recent years has been far fewer. Meanwhile, the U.S. surpassed 210,000 deaths from Covid-19 this week and some models suggested there could be hundreds of thousands of additional deaths by the end of the year.

Doctors and public health experts rejected the president's comparison of the flu and Covid-19.

Read the full story.

Trump military valet tests positive for Covid-19

A military valet who comes in contact with Trump tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend, a person familiar with the matter tells NBC News.

McEnany says she isn't experiencing any symptoms after testing positive for the coronavirus

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that she has not experienced any symptoms after she revealed Monday that she has tested positive for Covid-19.

"I'm feeling great. I'm having no symptoms. You know, I'm very blessed to have a mild own case or really just an asymptomatic case," McEnany said in an interview on Fox News' "Hannity." 

She added about Trump's return to the White House Monday in which he removed his mask when seen on the balcony, "I'm pleased to see that our commander in chief is doing well. Watching him on that balcony, just showing that we will overcome, America will overcome, just as he is, overcoming this illness, I think was a really nice moment for our country to see."

Two of McEnany's deputies — assistant press secretary Karoline Leavitt and principal assistant press secretary Chad Gilmartin — also contracted Covid-19 and are working from home, sources confirmed.

Majority still fears virus exposure as Trump says not to be 'afraid,' poll shows

Melissa Holzberg

Ben Kamisar and Melissa Holzberg

WASHINGTON — As President Donald Trump tells Americans not to be "afraid" of Covid-19 or let it "dominate" their lives, a majority of Americans continue to worry that someone in their family will be exposed to the coronavirus, according to new data from the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking Poll.

Sixty-five percent of American adults say they are worried that someone in their family will be exposed to the virus (32 percent say they are very worried, while 33 percent say they are somewhat worried) in new results captured from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4. Over that period, there were an average of 42,871 daily coronavirus cases and 692 daily deaths from the virus, according to NBC News' analysis.

That's a decline of only 5 percentage points since the first week of the poll, from June 29 through July 6, when a combined 70 percent said they were worried (36 percent were very worried, and 34 percent were somewhat worried). Over that week, for comparison, an average of 596 people died from the virus, and there was an average of 47,597 new daily cases.

Read full story here.

GOP senator says Trump 'let his guard down' on Covid-19

Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn said Monday that Trump "let his guard down" on Covid-19. 

“I think he let his guard down, and I think in his desire to try to demonstrate that we are somehow coming out of this and that the danger is not still with us — I think he got out over his skis and frankly, I think it’s a lesson to all of us that we need to exercise self-discipline,” Cornyn told the Houston Chronicle's editorial board.

Cornyn's campaign confirmed the quotes to NBC News. 

The senaor also told the Chronicle that Trump’s rhetoric at times "creates confusion."

"He tries to balance that with saying, 'Well you know, we got this.' And clearly we don’t have this," Cornyn added. "I think the biggest mistake people make in public life is not telling the truth, particularly in something with as much public interest as here because you know the real story is going to come out."

Three of Cornyn's GOP colleagues in the Senate have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past week.

Trump tweets from White House: 'Maybe I'm immune, I don't know'

Trump removes mask as he poses for photos at White House

President Donald Trump takes off his face mask as he arrives at the White House upon his return from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for Covid-19 on Oct. 5, 2020.Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images

Trump returns to White House after leaving hospital, sheds mask for photo opportunity

Trump returned to the White House on Monday evening after being treated for Covid-19 for three days at Walter Reed Medical Center— and immediately took off his mask to pose for pictures.

The highly choreographed moment on the Truman Balcony came hours after Trump suggested online that the disease is not that serious a threat.

Trump walked out of the hospital's main entrance shortly after 6:30 p.m. in a mask and a suit and tie and pumped his fist for the cameras before being driven to Marine One for the short trip back to the White House. He declined to answer questions from reporters.

At the White House, he went up the exterior stairs and posed in front of an array of flags on the balcony, where he immediately took off his mask. Trump kept the mask off even as he was greeted by mask-wearing White House staffers. He appeared to be shooting some sort of video.

Health experts say coronavirus patients should wear masks to avoid infecting others, and the president is still believed to be contagious.

Read more here.