President Trump holds first rally since COVID-19 diagnosis in Sanford

Supporters started filling the seats for the campaign at 4 p.m.

SANFORD, Fla. – President Donald Trump spoke to hundreds of his supporters in a campaign rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport on Monday night.

“It’s great to be back in my home state of Florida to make my official return to the campaign trail,” he said.

That return comes after his original rally in Sanford was canceled ten days ago when the president was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said President Trump’s latest coronavirus test came back negative.

“We’re going to take whatever the hell they gave me, and we’re going to distribute it around to hospitals, and everyone’s going to have the same damn thing,” Trump told supporters on Monday night.

Trump will also have a campaign event in Ocala on Friday.

Florida Democrats criticized the event, where mask wearing was optional.

In a statement released on Monday night, the organization said, "“Not only is President Trump holding a potential super spreader event at the Sanford airport this evening, but also our Governor Ron DeSantis was seen at the event, mask-less, high-fiving people, and rubbing his nose. This type of gross disregard for human life is deeply distressing from our leadership. It is unbelievable how the Republicans in Florida and President Trump refuse to take this pandemic seriously. Over 15,000 people have died from COVID in Florida alone. In this election we truly are voting for our lives.”

“I call this like the welcome back rally,” said Trump supporter Gene Huber. “Because of dealing with COVID and now he’s energized and ready.”

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Supporter Lee Johnson was camping out Sunday and said he planned to be the first in line.

“I’m here to support him,” Johnson said.

Late Sunday, workers set up the stage and prepped the hanger for Trump’s visit, a makeshift command center was in sight too. It’s Trump’s first rally since his COVID diagnosis. Trump addressed a small crowd from the White House balcony Saturday.

''We’re starting very big with our rallies and with our everything because we cannot allow our country to become a socialist nation," Trump said.

Meantime, Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, made a stop in Pennsylvania over the weekend after stopping in Miami last week.

“You’re facing real challenges and the last thing you need is a president who exacerbates them,” Biden said.

On Friday afternoon, Trump made it clear he was ready to get back on the campaign trail less than two weeks after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

The president confirmed the news on Twitter, saying he would be in town for a “very big rally.”

Trump insisted Thursday that he is ready to resume campaign rallies and feels “perfect” one week after his diagnosis with the coronavirus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans, as his doctor said the president had “completed his course of therapy” for the disease.

The president has not been seen in public — other than in White House-produced videos — since his Monday return from the military hospital where he received experimental treatments for the virus. On Thursday, his physician, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, said in a memo that Trump would be able to safely “return to public engagements” on Saturday, as the president tries to shift his focus to the election that’s less than four weeks away, with millions of Americans already casting ballots.

While Trump said he believes he’s no longer contagious, concerns about infection appeared to scuttle plans for next week’s presidential debate.

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“I’m feeling good. Really good. I think perfect,” Trump said during a telephone interview with Fox Business, his first since he was released from a three-day hospital stay Monday. “I think I’m better to the point where I’d love to do a rally tonight,” Trump said. He added, “I don’t think I’m contagious at all.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says individuals can discontinue isolation 10 days after the onset of symptoms, which for Trump was Oct. 1, according to his doctors. Conley said that meant Trump, who has been surrounded by minimal staffing as he works out of the White House residence and the Oval Office, could return to holding events on Saturday.

He added that Trump was showing no evidence of his illness progressing or adverse reactions to the aggressive course of therapy prescribed by his doctors.

Click here for details on the Trump’s rally on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Authors:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.