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Update On Presidential Campaigns


A new update tonight on the president's medical condition - White House physician Sean Conley says Trump has completed his course of treatment for COVID-19. He thinks Trump will be ready to do public events by Saturday. That's a bit earlier than what the physician had to say at the beginning of the week.


SEAN CONLEY: If we can get through to Monday with him remaining the same or improving, better yet, then we will all take that final deep-sigh relief.

CORNISH: It's the latest in a series of steps the White House is taking to try to show the president is getting back to normal after being hospitalized last week. We're joined now by NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe.

Welcome back, Ayesha.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

CORNISH: And our science correspondent, Jason Beaubien - how are you, Jason?

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Great. It's good to be with you.

CORNISH: Ayesha, I want to start with the memo. What exactly does Dr. Conley say?

RASCOE: So Conley's memo says that Trump's physical exam has remained stable and devoid of any indications to suggest a progression of illness. He said that Trump has responded extremely well to treatment and said there's no sign of any adverse therapeutic effects. Also, according to Conley, Saturday will be Day 10 since Thursday's diagnosis, and Conley says he fully anticipates that the president can safely return to public events. This date is important because the president has said he is eager to get back on the campaign trail. One key detail that Conley has not included in his memo was any information about when was the last time that Trump tested negative for the coronavirus and just didn't include any information about coronavirus testing.

BEAUBIEN: And we should note here that the president may not be out of the woods yet. It's only been a week since his diagnosis, and COVID can kind of be tricky. We've seen people start to feel extremely well for a period and then suddenly start to do poorly.

CORNISH: The president has been enthusiastic about the treatments that he received. He posted a video talking about some of the drugs that were prescribed. What stood out to you from that, Ayesha?

RASCOE: In this video aimed at seniors, Trump said, quote, "I was very sick." And this is a shift because before he was saying that going to the hospital was just a precautionary measure. He didn't really feel like he needed to go. And the White House has downplayed his condition, you know, over and over. You know, and it's part of the problem that the White House has had during this chaotic week - has just been having credibility and that they are getting the actual facts out about what is happening with President Trump because the story seems to change from time to time.

CORNISH: Jason, the president was also telling seniors essentially that he wants this cocktail of antibodies. I think it's from the company Regeneron. He wants that available for free. How realistic is that?

BEAUBIEN: Yeah. It's really not very realistic in the short term. Regeneron has requested emergency use authorization from the FDA, but they still haven't even gotten that yet. This is a very new treatment. It looks promising. You know, it's designed to block the virus to sort of create a shortcut to temporary immunity. But no one else is touting this as a cure or a sure thing. You know, the company says that if they get that authorization, they could initially make enough for about 50,000 people. Trump is saying these drugs would be available for free. That would imply, you know, a hefty federal subsidy. And Regeneron did get $450 million from the U.S. government to develop and manufacture this drug earlier this year, but we really don't know what that would mean for consumers.

CORNISH: In the meantime, Ayesha, this is just a few weeks out from the election. The president has been eager to get back to campaigning. What's the latest on his plans for the coming week?

RASCOE: So next Thursday in Miami, there was supposed to be a presidential debate. Today the commission that runs the debate said that they're going to go virtual. And basically, they raised concerns not just because of Trump but because of the more than a dozen cases around Trump that have come out in the - you know, in the past week. President Trump has said he's not interested in a virtual debate. And his campaign, just recently after this memo came out from Conley, said once again that they think the debate should be held next week in person.

CORNISH: NPR's Ayesha Rascoe and Jason Beaubien, thanks to you both.

BEAUBIEN: You're welcome.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
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