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Trump hospitalized for Covid treatment, campaign grounded

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump was hospitalized Friday and given an experimental Covid-19 treatment, but said he was “well,” following bombshell news that the Republican had contracted the virus, knocking him off the campaign trail a month from the US election.

After having not been seen in public since his shock announcement that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, the president walked out of the White House Friday evening, wearing a mask, and flew by helicopter to the Walter Reed military hospital outside Washington.

In an 18-second video recorded inside the White House and released on Twitter, Trump broke his silence, saying he was being hospitalized but “I think I’m doing very well.”

“We’re going to make sure that things work out,” he said, adding that the first lady was also “doing very well.”

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that medical experts recommended Trump “be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days.”

The hospitalization indicated an intense effort to make sure the president’s reportedly “mild” symptoms do not deteriorate.

The development also highlighted the uncharted waters for the US election on November 3, with Trump — who is well behind his Democratic opponent Joe Biden in the polls — having to freeze much of his campaign.

At first, aides gave rosy assessments, with Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows saying the president, 74, had only mild symptoms, was in “good spirits” and feeling “very energetic.”

Later Friday, a letter issued by White House physician Sean Conley indicated something more serious.

Conley said Trump received a single dose of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail, a treatment undergoing clinical trials but not yet approved by regulators.

“He’s being evaluated by a team of experts, and together we’ll be making recommendations to the President and First Lady in regards to next best steps,” Conley wrote.

Biden out on his own

Trump’s illness upended the White House race, with Biden suddenly finding himself alone on the campaign trail — and able to argue that his distinctly more cautious approach to Covid-19 had been vindicated.

Biden has made Trump’s frequent downplaying of the pandemic and mixed messaging on mask-wearing a central campaign theme, arguing the president is to blame for the scale of the crisis in the United States, where more than 200,000 people have died.

Trump has tried repeatedly to shift the narrative to areas where he feels stronger, like the economy, only to find himself drawn back into the coronavirus catastrophe in which he is now the country’s highest-profile patient.

Biden, who stood in close proximity to Trump for 90 minutes during their ill-tempered first debate Tuesday in Cleveland, announced that he and his wife Jill took tests Friday and were negative.

Underlining his sudden advantage in the bitter race, Biden, 77, traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, going ahead with a previously scheduled campaign stop.

Biden said he was praying for Trump and his family, and his campaign announced it would take down all negative ads.

However, Biden also reminded Americans that he has pushed consistently for taking coronavirus seriously, unlike his opponent who has repeatedly mocked the Democrat for his rigorous use of masks yet now finds himself infected.

“Be patriotic,” Biden told supporters in Michigan through a blue surgical mask. “It’s not about being a tough guy. It’s about doing your part.”

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.