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Trump, out of sight, tweets up storm, says he ‘feels great’

Zeke Miller, Jill Colvin
Associated Press

Washington — President Donald Trump on Wednesday credited an experimental drug treatment with helping his recovery from COVID-19 and suggested his diagnosis could be a “blessing in disguise” for the nation’s battle against the pandemic — even though there is no way for the president or his doctors to know whether the drug had any effect.

In a new White House video posted Wednesday evening, Trump said his illness had shed light on an experimental antibody cocktail that he credited for his improved condition. Seemingly sensitive to the fact that his treatment course is far more comprehensive than the care received by average Americans, he promised to swiftly get the drugs approved for use — and distribute it for free — even though he does not have the power to order that himself.

“I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your president, because I feel great,” Trump said from the Rose Garden. “I feel like perfect.”

In this Monday, Oct. 5, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump removes his mask as he stands on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House in Washington, after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. Trump announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2.

Still, questions continue to swirl about the trajectory of his recovery and when he might be able to return to normal activities, including campaigning, less than four weeks before Election Day.

Trump received an experimental antiviral cocktail made by Regeneron through a “compassionate use” exemption, a recognition of the above-and-beyond standard of care he receives as president. The safety and effectiveness of the drug have not yet been proven. And there is no way for the president or his doctors to know that the drug had any effect. Most people recover from COVID-19.

Trump posted the video on Twitter Wednesday after aides said he has returned to the Oval Office for a briefing on Hurricane Delta, which is bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast, and on economic stimulus prospects — despite still being contagious two days after he was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday,

Aides insisted that only limited staff were around him and that he entered the office from the outside to limit exposure.

Amid questions about when he will return to the campaign trail, Trump also offered a flurry of tweeted broadsides against Democrats and pushed lawmakers to take up piecemeal economic aid proposals after nixing negotiations on a broader assistance package.

Trump’s doctor reported Wednesday that the president continued to make progress in his recovery.

Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, said Trump had declared, “I feel great!”

Conley added in a memo that Trump had been symptom-free for over 24 hours, and that his oxygen saturation level and respiratory rate were normal. The memo also said a blood test Monday showed Trump had coronavirus antibodies, substances that fight infection, but he had been given an experimental drug on Friday containing these.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. says it’s not possible for this type of blood test to distinguish between antibodies Trump’s body may be making and those supplied by the company’s drug. Most likely, the ones detected in the Monday test are from the drug, the company said.

Still, Trump called the drug “the key” to his recovery.

Access to Trump for White House aides has been extremely limited since his discharge. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and senior adviser Dan Scavino were among those with the president in the Oval Office, according to officials.

Trump tried to salvage a few priority items lost in the rubble of COVID-19 relief talks that he himself cut off a day earlier, pressing for $1,200 stimulus checks and new aid for airlines and other businesses hard hit by the pandemic.

In his barrage of tweets, Trump pressed for passage of specific chunks of assistance, an about-face from his abrupt move to abandon talks with a longtime rival, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke briefly Wednesday morning about the chances for a stand-alone airline rescue bill, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted.