Watch CBS News

Trump holds first public event at White House since testing positive for COVID-19

get the free app
Trump speaks at first public event since COVID diagnosis
Trump speaks at first in-person event since COVID-19 diagnosis 17:43

President Trump held his first public event since testing positive for COVID-19 a little over a week ago. He spoke from the South Lawn balcony on Saturday about "law and order," and hundreds of people attended.

Mr. Trump's address came days after he left Walter Reed, where he was hospitalized last weekend for COVID-19 treatment.

It also came two weeks after the president nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a ceremony Dr. Anthony Fauci described as a "super spreader" event. Multiple White House officials, including the president, tested positive for the virus after the ceremony, as did some senators and other guests.

In his speech Saturday, Mr. Trump said a vaccine for COVID-19 is being rapidly developed.

"It's going to disappear, it is disappearing," Mr. Trump said about the virus, which has killed over 210,000 Americans and infected more than 7.6 million people across the country. 

Virus Outbreak Trump
President Donald Trump speaks from the Blue Room Balcony of the White House to a crowd of supporters, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Washington. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

The event was coordinated with Candace Owens' Blexit group and attended by conservative activists. Mr. Trump slammed Joe Biden, saying he had "betrayed" Black Americans.

"Sleepy Joe Biden has betrayed Black and Latino Americans. If you think he can run this country, you're wrong," Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump also argued that it is important for Black Americans to support law enforcement. The nation has been rocked by protests in recent months over the deaths of unarmed Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement officers.

He also slammed Biden for his lack of support among law enforcement groups, and claimed that he would want to defund the police. Biden has said that he does not support defunding the police, has expressed support for law enforcement and has condemned violent riots.

Although the White House insisted it was not a campaign event, attendees wore Trump campaign caps. The president spoke for only 17 minutes.

"This is the single most important election in the history of our country. Get out and vote, and I love you!" Mr. Trump told the cheering crowd.

A source familiar with planning for the event told CBS News before that 2,000 invitations had been issued. The source said all attendees were required to bring a mask and would be instructed to wear it on the White House complex. All attendees also had to complete a COVID-19 screening, consisting of a temperature check and brief questionnaire. 

However, there was no social distancing at the event.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS News' Steven Portnoy on Friday that the event at the White House two weeks ago shows how important it is to wear a mask.

"I think the — the data speaks for themselves," Fauci said of mask-wearing. "We had a super-spreader event in the White House and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks. So the data speak for themselves."

Mr. Trump plans to resume campaign travel on Monday, 10 days after he announced his COVID-19 diagnosis. He tweeted that he'll be in Sanford, Florida, for a "very BIG RALLY" on Monday.

Fin Gomez and Nicole Sganga contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.