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U.S. President Donald Trump held a large White House political rally Saturday, his first public event since he tested positive recently for the coronavirus that has, according to Johns Hopkins University, claimed over 214,000 lives in the U.S., more than in any other country.
The rally marked the resumption of public campaign activities for Trump, who was hospitalized for three nights for treatment of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as the Nov. 3 presidential election draws closer.
As questions lingered about his health, Trump spoke from a balcony without wearing a mask, telling a crowd of largely Blacks and Latinos, who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, there are "a lot of flare-ups, but it's going to disappear."
He said, without evidence, a "vaccine is coming very, very quickly, in record time."
All attendees were required to wear masks to what was billed as "a peaceful protest for law and order" White House event. They were urged to practice social distancing, were given temperature checks and were asked to complete a brief questionnaire. The Associated Press reported that most of those who gathered for his speech wore masks, but there was little social distancing.
The president's last public event, the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, took place Sept. 26 in the Rose Garden and was attended by more than 200 people, most of whom didn't wear face masks. It has been described as a coronavirus super spreader - an event that is linked to a large number of new infections. After the Rose Garden event, more than two dozen people contracted COVID-19, including Trump, first lady Melania Trump and several aides.
The "law and order" event was announced as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious-disease expert, warned the White House to avoid large gatherings of people without masks.
Trump's doctors said the president began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 on Oct. 1. Trump's White House physician, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, said in a statement Oct. 8 that Trump's condition "remained stable and devoid of any indication to suggest progression of the illness," and that Trump could safely resume holding events Saturday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who have recovered from the infection continue to wear masks and take social-distancing precautions. Trump, who received experimental treatments for the coronavirus while hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, has been inconsistent in wearing masks during the pandemic.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will take his campaign to Erie, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, the first presidential candidate to visit the city since Trump in 2016.
The Erie County Democratic Party said Biden would meet with business owners, members of organized labor and other community members. The party said Biden's visit would not be a major public event, citing the ongoing coronavirus crisis in the U.S.