US President Donald Trump is no longer a COVID-19 transmission risk to others, his physician said on Saturday.
Dr Sean Conley wrote in a health update that 10 days after first experiencing symptoms, the US leader is now "fever-free well over 24 hours and all symptoms improved" and that tests "reveal there is no longer evidence of actively replicating virus."
The memo came hours after Trump said he was "feeling great" during his first public appearance since returning to the White House after being treated for the coronavirus.
The White House had refused to declare that he is no longer contagious, and the gathering of hundreds of people on the South Lawn went ahead despite the guidance of public health officials.
The president wore a mask as he walked for the speech but took it off to make his remarks from a balcony, receiving an enthusiastic response from his supporters. Most in the crowd wore masks, but they were packed together with little social distancing.
The event came two weeks after the Rose Garden event that is now considered a coronavirus “superspreader,” when the US president nominated Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court justice. More than two dozen people linked to the White House have since contracted COVID-19.
On Saturday, all those attending the latest event were required to bring masks or were provided with them, and also were given temperature checks and asked to fill out a brief questionnaire.
Attendees were strongly encouraged to follow CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines, which include mask-wearing and social distancing.
Speaking on a campaign trip to Pennsylvania, Trump's election rival Joe Biden said he thought the president should make it clear to people that they practise social distancing.
Trump also addressed his controversial decision to leave hospital whilst still undergoing treatment to greet supporters. "I took a little heat for it, but I do it again. Let me tell you, I'd do it again," he said.
He added that the US was going to eradicate the "China virus" across the world, repeating his claim that a vaccine would be ready "very, very soon" -- an assertion disputed by most scientists.
Trump cleared to appear but can't confirm he is virus-free
Conley had said in a memo Thursday that, “based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics the team has been conducting,” he “fully anticipate(d) the President’s safe return to public engagements” as soon as Saturday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said in an Associated Press interview Friday that Trump "would be within the recommended timeframe of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)."
The guideline, according to Fauci, "generally is 10 days from the onset of your symptoms." He says ten days for Trump would be Saturday.
Earlier, Donald Trump would not confirm whether he still had the virus or not. He said he had been re-tested and was "either at the bottom of the scale or free" of the disease. He added that he had been tested "every couple of days" and was "at a level now that's been great."
He said he had not been taking any medication as of earlier in the day on Friday, and credited his recovery to an experimental antibody drug made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Health experts say it’s not a cure, but experimental antibody drugs like those are among the most promising therapies being tested. They aim to help the immune system fight the coronavirus. However, they are still in the testing phase and their safety and effectiveness are not yet known.
Trump returned to the Oval Office on Wednesday with his doctor' approval but several of his top aides have now tested positive.
Trump plans rallies but Oct 15 TV debate is off
The president said during a Thursday interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity that he is already planning rallies.
After being sidelined for more than a week to recover, Trump hopes to return to the campaign trail early next week in Florida.
In the Florida Panhandle, a Trump stronghold, nearly 300 Republicans convened shoulder-to-shoulder and maskless in a hotel conference room this week, in the president's absence.
They chanted and cheered as leading party figures including the governor and the president's eldest son shared anti-Democratic conspiracy theories, attacked the media and warned that Joe Biden “is a puppet for the radical left.”
Meanwhile, the second presidential debate between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden is officially off.
The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates confirmed Friday that the Oct. 15 faceoff would be scrapped. The decision was made a day after the commission announced the debate would take place “virtually” because Trump had contracted the coronavirus.
Trump balked at holding the debate in that format, and Biden scheduled a town hall with ABC News for that night once Trump said he would not participate.
Trump’s team later countered with a call to hold the debates as scheduled once the president’s doctor said he would be cleared to hold public events beginning on Saturday.
But the commission said it would not reverse its decision not to have the candidates on stage together, citing an abundance of caution with health concerns — particularly for the town-hall-style debate that was set to feature questions from average voters.
The third debate, scheduled for Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee, is still on.
Biden: Trump's 'reckless' conduct hurting nation
Biden used a campaign stop in economically decimated Nevada to hammer Trump and Senate Republicans for not doing more to help Americans deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Democratic presidential candidate told supporters on Friday at a socially distanced drive-in rally outside Las Vegas that Trump “ignores you, looks down upon you."
"His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis, the destabilizing effect it's having on our government is unconscionable. He didn't take the necessary precautions to protect himself or others. And the longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he gets," Biden said.
"My heart goes out to everyone struggling with the economic crisis caused by the neglect, the simple neglect of this president. Nearly 11 million jobs lost since the beginning of this crisis. And they still haven't come back, including 136,000 jobs here in Nevada."
Nevada has been hit especially hard in the pandemic economy as tourism to Las Vegas has fallen drastically. The state’s 13.2 per cent unemployment rate in September was the nation’s highest.
Early voting starts in Nevada on Oct. 17. Democrat Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016, but it remains a battleground.
Fauci 'cautiously optimistic' for year end vaccine
Dr. Anthony Fauci says he is "cautiously optimistic" the U.S. will have a safe and effective vaccine available by the end of November or beginning of December.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the Associated Press that the federal government has already "pre-ordered to be produced large numbers of doses." So he said some Americans, like healthcare workers, would likely be able to start getting the vaccine by January 2021.
While that is a historically quick timeline for vaccine production, it contradicts statements from Trump and other members of his administration that a vaccine will be available as early as this month.
Fauci said Americans should rest assured the vaccine development and production process will be transparent and driven entirely by science, not politics.