President Trump returned to the Oval Office on Wednesday, even as a full picture of his health remained unclear and many of his aides were in quarantine amid a West Wing outbreak that continues to grow.
White House officials said he went in for an update on the stimulus talks that he had called off Tuesday. And two people close to the White House said that advisers were exploring the possibility of resuming travel events for the president next week.
Despite the president’s insistence on returning to seeming normalcy, experts on the virus say he is entering a pivotal phase in the disease — seven to 10 days after the onset of symptoms — when some patients take a turn for the worse.
Underscoring the potential dangers, a White House memo instructed staff members to follow new safety protocols, among them some that Mr. Trump has previously dismissed. They include surgical masks and protective eye covers. Many health experts believe the West Wing outbreak is a result of White House officials ignoring precautions recommended by public health experts.
Mr. Trump told the White House medical staff that he was feeling “great” and was symptom-free, according to a statement released Wednesday by his physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley. But Dr. Conley offered few further details about the president’s treatment, including whether he was still taking a steroid.
Dr. Conley’s statement said Mr. Trump has not needed supplemental oxygen since returning from the hospital. But the full picture of the his health remains murky. Doctors, for instance, have not shared results of the president’s chest X-rays or lung scans, crucial measures of the severity of his illness.
The president — trailing in the polls and less than a month away from the election — is trying to project the image of a healthy leader, and not of a patient with Covid-19. He has said he plans to be at the next debate, on Oct. 15, when he could still be contagious. His opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., says there should not be a debate if the president still has the virus.
Since leaving the hospital Monday evening, the president has returned to minimizing the seriousness of the pandemic — even as many states in the country are experiencing serious outbreaks.
Montana and Oklahoma, where hospitals are strained, set single-day case records on Tuesday, according to a Times database. And Alaska, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming reported more cases in the last week than they have during any seven-day period of the pandemic.