WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s return to the White House Monday evening was nothing short of dramatic pageantry. Trump ascended the stairs to the White House and promptly removed his protective face mask for photos before declaring that the nation has nothing to fear from COVID-19, despite the fact that it has killed over 210,000 Americans and infected nearly 7.5 million more.
It remains to be seen what Trump’s first day back at the White House will bring.
This is a developing story. Read below for updates throughout the day:
4:20 p.m. EDT
Stocks are plummeting after Trump’s announcement to end negotiations for a stimulus package until after Election Day.
The S&P index slid 1.3% after Trump tweeted his mandate. The benchmark index had been up 0.7% just prior to the president’s announcement with about an hour of trading left.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 359 points, or 1.3%, to 27,785 as of 3:19 p.m. Eastern time. The Nasdaq composite was down 1.4%. Small stocks were holding up better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks was up 0.2%.
The market’s slide comes a day after the S&P 500 posted its best day in more than three weeks. Other stock markets around the world made mostly modest gains. Longer-term Treasury yields veered lower after Trump’s remarks. They had earlier been hanging close to their highest levels in months.
The selling was widespread, led by technology stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending. Utilities were the only gainers among the 11 sectors in the S&P 500.
A report on Tuesday showed that U.S. employers advertised slightly fewer job openings in August than the prior month. But the number was nevertheless better than economists expected.
Trading on Wall Street has gotten even shakier recently as investors contend with a long list of uncertainties, from Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis to waxing and waning expectations about Congress’ ability to deliver another round of stimulus for the economy.
Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke briefly by phone this afternoon. Mnuchin confirmed that Trump walked away from the negotiations.
4:05 p.m. EDT
The Biden campaign announced that former Vice President Joe Biden has tested negative for COVID-19.
“Vice President Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected,” the campaign said.
3:15 p.m. EDT
The Office of the First Lady has released an update on the health and safety precautions within the White House Executive Residence.
“With the recent positive results of the President and First Lady, staff wear full PPE and continue to take all necessary precautions, which include updated procedures to protect against cross contamination,” the statement reads.
Residence staff in direct contact with the president and first lady are tested daily; support staff are tested every 48 hours.
“Since March, the Residence has adopted hospital-grade disinfection policies, had White House Medical Unit lead coronavirus workshops so staff could have their concerns addressed, significantly reduced staff, and encouraged maximum teleworking. The Residence also installed additional sanitization and filtration systems throughout the Executive Mansion.”
The White House residence also hired a “‘well-being’ consultant” which staffers can speak to anonymously “specifically to focus on mental health concerns.”
3:00 p.m. EDT
President Trump posted to Twitter that he has rejected the stimulus proposal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats and told his representatives to stop negotiating on a stimulus deal until after the election.
Claiming Pelosi is not acting in good faith, Trump went on to say, “I am rejecting their request, and looking to the future of our Country. I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.”
He went on to say that he has asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “not to delay, but to instead focus full time on approving my outstanding nominee to the United States Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett.”
Trump claimed that the economy is doing very well, but Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned today warned that a lack of stimulus could imperil the economy and lead to a weak recovery.
“The expansion is still far from complete,” Powell said in a speech to the National Association for Business Economics, a group of corporate and academic economists. “Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses. Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy, and holding back wage growth.”
2:30 p.m. EDT
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Monday that the president is “still early enough in the disease” that he could experience a “reversal” in his condition.
“The issue is that he’s still early enough in the disease that it’s no secret that, if you look at the clinical course of people, sometimes when you’re 5-8 days in, you can have a reversal,” Dr. Fauci said.
“A ‘reversal’ meaning, ‘going in the wrong direction’ and get into trouble,” he added.
Dr. Fauci followed up by saying, “it’s unlikely that it will happen, but they need to be heads up for it.”
1:54 p.m. EDT
New details about the Joint Chiefs of Staff entering quarantine have emerged.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, and the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force have tested negative for the virus, but remain under quarantine as a precaution, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information not yet made public. The head of U.S. Cyber Command, Gen. Paul Nakasone, was also among those quarantined.
The vice commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Charles W. Ray, tested positive for COVID-19.
Ray had “mild symptoms over the weekend,” according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Out of an abundance of caution, all potential close contacts from these meetings are self-quarantining and have been tested this morning. No Pentagon contacts have exhibited symptoms and we have no additional positive tests to report at this time,” a statement from the Department of Defense said. “There is no change to the operational readiness or mission capability of the U.S. Armed Forces. Senior military leaders are able to remain fully mission capable and perform their duties from an alternative work location.”
Up to 14 officials are believed to have been potentially exposed to the virus after meetings last week with Admiral Ray. The officials were informed about the positive test on Monday.
It is not known how Ray contracted the virus, but it was not believed to be related to the outbreak affecting President Donald Trump and others at the White House, the officials said.
1:15 p.m. EDT
President Trump is being blasted over his comments that Americans should not be afraid of the coronavirus.
“Don’t let it dominate you,” Trump said in a video from the White House. “Don’t be afraid. You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment. We have the best medicines.”
In trying to reassure Americans, the president made no mention of the fact that more than 210,000 people in the country have died from COVID-19.
His latest example of downplaying the virus was met by harsh criticism from doctors, Democrats and celebrities, many of whom were quick to point out that most people would not receive the level of care that the president did.
“‘Don’t be afraid of Covid’ is an evil thing to say to those of us who lost our loved ones to Covid 19,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), said in a tweet. “This man is unfit to be President, he lacks the compassion and humanity it takes to lead our country.”
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical School, told The New York Times that Trump’s remarks were “dangerous.”
“It will lead to more casual behavior, which will lead to more transmission of the virus, which will lead to more illness, and more illness will lead to more deaths,” Schaffner said.
Dr. Carolos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University in Atlanta, tweeted: “Are you telling the relatives of 210,000 Americans who have died of #COVID19 not to be afraid? Please tell everyone the truth once and for all, this is serious & #WearAMask You didn’t and got infected.”
1:00 p.m. EDT
President Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, released an update about the president’s condition, saying that Trump has reported “no symptoms” of COVID-19 after “a restful first night at home.”
Dr. Conley says Trump’s vital signs are stable and he has an “ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95-97%.”
Vice President Pence’s physician also released an update shortly after, saying that Pence “is encouraged to go about his normal activities and does not need to quarantine” after testing negative.
Meanwhile, Gen. Mark Milley, the top U.S. general, and several members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are quarantining after a top Coast Guard official tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report from CNN.
11:55 a.m. EDT
A military aide has tested positive for COVID-19, according to reports.
Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reports that one of Trump’s military aides, Coast Guard aide Jayna McCarron, as well as one of the president’s military valets, have both tested positive for coronavirus.
11:51 a.m. EDT
Vice President Mike Pence has tested negative for COVID-19 again ahead of Wednesday’s vice presidential debate against Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Joe Biden’s running mate, according to his office.
A spokesperson for Pence appeared to mock Harris’ request for a plexiglass barrier at the debate, which sources reported she requested after Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
“If Sen. Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it,” Pence spokesperson Katie Miller said Monday.
Both candidates will be spaced 7 to 13 feet apart on stage.
Democrat Jaime Harrison used a plexiglass barrier in his debate against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Oct. 3.
11:45 a.m. EDT
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that U.S. recovery will be weak without government intervention.
In the text of a speech for a conference hosted by the National Association for Business Economics, Powell said, “too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses.”
“By contrast,” Powell said, “the risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller. Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste.”
President Trump tweeted from the hospital in support of a stimulus plan, telling Congress to “WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE.”
House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan last week in a measure approved largely along party lines. The White House and Congress are far apart on simulus negotiations.
Powell said that a rise in COVID-19 infections could “more significantly limit economic activity, not to mention the tragic effects on lives and well-being,”
11:30 a.m. EDT
Facebook has removed a post from President Trump where he falsely claimed COVID-19 is less deadly than the flu.
Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Facebook, confirmed the social media giant removed the post for breaking its rules on COVID-19 misinformation.
In his post, Trump suggested that 100,000 Americans die from the flu each year. This is in direct contradiction to CDC estimates, which puts the annual flu death toll range between 12,000 and 61,000 since 2010.
According to the CDC, more Americans have died from COVID-19 since January than the previous five flu seasons combined.
An article from ProPublica from March explains the difference between the flu and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Twitter has hidden the same post on their platform, saying the post violated “the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19,” but left the post up.
“Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” the banner over Trump’s tweet reads.
11:00 a.m. EDT
A Trump campaign official said that were it up to the president, he would likely already be back on the campaign trail.
In an appearance on Fox News, Trump campaign national press secretary Hogan Gidley said, “We are looking forward to him getting back on the trail when the doctors say it’s physically feasible for him to do so but he’s ready now, and if he had his druthers, I don’t know that he would have ever gotten off the trail.”
When asked about Trump removing his mask when he returned to the White House, Gidley pointed out that Democratic presidentical candidate Joe Biden, who does not have COVID-19, appeared maskless in a town hall conversation with NBC News’ Lester Holt.
“Joe Biden is sitting there without a mask next to Lester Holt without a mask,” Gidley said.
Biden tested negative for COVID-19 Sunday, and twice on Friday. Biden made appearances in Miami Monday, and will travel to Gettysburg, Penn., Tuesday.
10:50 a.m. EDT
President Trump posted to Twitter Tuesday that he is “looking forward” to the second presidential debate against former VP Joe Biden on Oct. 15 in Miami, Florida.
“It will be great,” the president added.
There are 11 coronavirus cases linked to the first presidential debate at the Cleveland Clinic in Clevaland, Ohio, which took place on Sept. 29.
According to multiple reports, the White House has declined offers from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct contact tracing with regards to President Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
USA Today first reported that the White House rebuffed an offer on Monday from the CDC to track down and notify individuals who were exposed to the coronavirus outbreak linked to Trump, several top aides, and other high-profile individuals conntected to the president.
“The White House has plans and procedures in place that incorporate current CDC guidelines and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure and has established a robust contact tracing program led by the White House Medical Unit with CDC integration,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere said in a statement to CNN.
Even officials within the Washington, D.C., Department of Health have been unable to connect with the White House to assist with contact tracing or other health and safety protocols, according to the city’s mayor, Muriel Bowser.
“We have reached out to the White House on a couple of different levels, a political level and a public health level,” Bowser said Monday.
Bowser added that a D.C. health department representative “had a very cursory conversation” with the White House “that we don’t consider a substantial contact from the public health side.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed Tuesday that a coronavirus vaccine would require two months of safety data for Emergency Use Authorization.
“Data from Phase 3 studies that includes a median follow-up duration of at least two months after completion of the full vaccination regimen to help provide adequate information to assess a vaccine’s benefit-risk profile, including: adverse events; cases of severe COVID-19 disease among study subjects; and cases of COVID-19 occurring during the timeframe when adaptive (rather than innate) and memory immune responses to the vaccine would be responsible for a protective effect.”
The news comes after a report Monday evening from the New York Times that White House officials were blocking the FDA’s stricter guidelines, which would push vaccine approval past Election Day, according to a senior Trump administration official and other individuals familiar with the circumstances, who spoke to the Times on the condition of anonymity.
Election Day is Nov. 3.
His comments ignited new controversy over his attitude towards the deadly virus. On Sunday, he said in a video “I learned a lot about COVID” after having contracted the virus – and, true to form, Trump’s advocates lambasted his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, for not having “those firsthand experiences” that Trump does after having contracted the coronavirus.
“He has experience now fighting the coronavirus as an individual,” Erin Perrine, director of press communications for the Trump campaign, told Fox News. “Those firsthand experiences – Joe Biden, he doesn’t have those.”
Shortly after that video update, Trump ventured out of the hospital while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade – an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus, drawing the ire of doctors, Secret Service agents, and others.
Trump’s experience with the disease has been dramatically different from most Americans, who do not have access to the same kind of monitoring and care. While most must cope with their symptoms – and fear of whether they’ll take a turn for the worse – at home and alone, Trump has been staying in the presidential suite of one of the nation’s best hospitals and has been given experimental drugs not readily available to the public. He returns to the White House, where there is a team of doctors on call with 24-hour monitoring.
Trump was leaving the hospital after receiving a fourth dose of the antiviral drug remdesivir Monday evening, Conley said. He will receive the fifth and final dose Tuesday at the White House.
Vice President Mike Pence returned to the campaign trail moments after Trump announced he would soon leave the hospital. The vice president boarded Air Force Two to fly to Salt Lake City, where he is to face off against Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday.
Trump, in his new video, defended his decision to repeatedly flout his own administration’s guidelines to slow the spread of the virus, including by holding rallies with thousands of mostly maskless supporters.
Apparently referring to any potential danger to himself rather than others, he said: “I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did.” He added: “And I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger. But that’s OK. And now I’m better. And maybe I’m immune, I don’t know.”
And a month before the election and anxious to project strength, Trump tweeted before leaving the hospital, “Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!”
“Don’t be afraid of it,” Trump said of the virus, in a video released late Monday after he returned to the White House. “You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines.” His remarks were strong, but he was taking deeper breaths than usual as he delivered them.
On Tuesday, Trump went a step further, repeating his previous comparisons between COVID-19 and the seasonal flu.
“Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu,” he tweeted. “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!!!”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he’s not surprised President Donald Trump, who has long played down the coronavirus and been dismissive of face masks, contracted COVID-19.
Speaking during an NBC News town hall Monday night, the former vice president said, “Anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter, I think is responsible for what happens to them.”
“There’s a lot to be concerned about,” Biden said, noting the U.S. death toll of 210,000 people. “I hope no one walks away with the message thinking that it is not a problem. It’s a serious problem.”
Here is a list of current administration officials or individuals connected with President Trump to test positive for COVID-19
- President Donald Trump
- First Lady Melania Trump
- White House aide Hope Hicks
- White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
- Two deputies to McEnany: Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt
- White House aide Nick Luna
- Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel
- Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien
- Former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway
- Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
- University of Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins
- Pastor Greg Laurie, Harvest Christian Fellowship senior pastor
- Three White House reporters
- One White House staffer
Here are some other storylines we’re following:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.