Trump says catching COVID-19 was a 'blessing from God'
By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared that catching the coronavirus was a 'blessing from God' that exposed to him to experimental treatments he vowed would become free for all Americans, in his first video message since leaving hospital
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By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared that catching the coronavirus was a "blessing from God" that exposed to him to experimental treatments he vowed would become free for all Americans, in his first video message since leaving hospital.
Trump, eager to revitalize his ailing re-election campaign, repeatedly stressed how well he felt so far in his recovery from COVID-19 , the disease caused by the coronavirus . It was unclear if he was still testing positive for the virus.
"I think this was a blessing from God that I caught it. This was a blessing in disguise," Trump said, adding that his use of the medication from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc
Trump, who has been widely criticized for a slow response to the pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans and putting his own staff at risk by discouraging the use of masks in the White House and on the campaign trail, also cited similar medication from Eli Lilly and Co
"I want to get for you what I got. And I'm going to make it free," Trump said.
His video message followed White House assurances that the 74-year-old president was back at the Oval Office on Wednesday, getting briefed about economic stimulus talks and Hurricane Delta, just two days after his discharge from Walter Reed military hospital.
A White House official said Trump entered the office from the Rose Garden to avoid walking through the White House hallways and possibly exposing others to the coronavirus .
Chief of staff Mark Meadows, who briefed Trump in personal protective gear, said the White House was keeping access to the Oval Office extremely limited.
Trump had been in his residence in the White House since his dramatic made-for-video return from Walter Reed in a helicopter on Monday night.
Trump, who faces Democrat Joe Biden in the November election, has had no COVID-19 symptoms for the past 24 hours, his doctor Sean Conley said in a statement.
"He's now been fever-free for more than four days, symptom-free for over 24 hours, and has not needed, nor received, any supplemental oxygen since initial hospitalization," Conley said.
EAGER TO CAMPAIGN
Despite his illness, Trump has been looking for ways to get his election message out and cut into Biden's lead in battleground states, advisers said. His video message appeared to be a step in that direction.
A speech to senior voters is being contemplated for Thursday, they said.
Vice President Mike Pence's debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris in Salt Lake City will take center stage of the campaign on Wednesday evening.
Aides say Trump is impatient to get back on the campaign trail and insistent on going ahead with the next debate on Oct. 15 in Miami, but Biden said on Tuesday he will not participate if Trump is not virus-free.
The new claim on free medications came the day after Trump abruptly ended talks with Democrats on a new round of stimulus for a pandemic-pounded economy, with both sides far apart on how much money to devote to a deal.
Both Biden and the top Democrat in the U.S. Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accused Trump of abandoning needy Americans.
"The president turned his back on you," Biden said in a Twitter post.
With layoffs in key industries mounting by the day and threatening the fragile recovery, Trump late on Tuesday urged Congress to quickly pass $25 billion in funding for passenger airlines, $135 billion for small businesses and provide $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans.
But White House officials on Wednesday downplayed the likelihood of any kind of stimulus being passed before the election.
Trump's drive to get Judge Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the vacant seat on the Supreme Court by the Republican-controlled Senate before the election also may be in doubt, since three Republican senators infected with the virus may not be able to vote.
A wave of infections at the White House among Trump's top lieutenants and press aides has left the West Wing struggling to find its footing. At least 19 people close to Trump have tested positive.
Trump has depicted himself as a man who vanquished the disease and emerged stronger, telling Americans not to be afraid of COVID-19 .
The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted Oct. 2 to 6, found that 38% of adults approved of Trump's handling of the coronavirus , while 56% said they disapproved.
In a withering editorial, the New England Journal of https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2029812Medicine accused America's leaders of an astonishing degree of failure over the COVID-19 crisis that "turned it into a tragedy."
Advisers say Trump wanted to be talking about other issues instead of the virus by this stage of the campaign, to put pressure on Biden. Opinion polls show Trump down double digits, and Biden with sizeable leads in many swing states.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert and Chris Kahn; Writing by Alistair Bell and Phil Stewart; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Clarence Fernandez)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.