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Trump allies turn Covid diagnosis into a message of strength

His allies have tried to connect the president’s experience to the pain of millions of Americans affected by the deadly virus, but they haven’t used the experience to send a broader public-health message about a pandemic that has killed around 210,000 people in the U.S. They have instead presented, in a series of TV appearances and tweets, a testament to Trump’s resilience by asserting that he has overcome the disease.

He and his surrogates are now portraying the president as having personally vanquished the virus — and they continue to skirt any suggestion of his complicity in its spread while largely ignoring the dire signs of his condition.

Their defense is to push the president’s diagnosis almost as a boost to his qualifications. Piggybacking off the campaign’s criticisms of Joe Biden as a challenger relegated to his basement, Trump’s team has portrayed the president’s Covid case as an insight into the disease that the Democractic nominee could never have.

“He has experience as commander in chief. He has experience as a businessman,” a Trump campaign spokeswoman, Erin Perrine, said Monday on Fox News. “He has experience now of fighting the coronavirus as an individual. Those firsthand experiences, Joe Biden, he doesn’t have those.”

In a video to his supporters on Sunday, Trump said that he had “learned a lot about Covid.”

“I learned it by really going to school,” the president said. “This is the real school. This isn’t the let’s-read-the-book school. And I get it. And I understand it. And it’s a very interesting thing, and I’m going to be letting you know about it.”

But the approach hasn’t led the surge in public support that often follows a leader’s health crisis. His critics continue to question why he and his staff had continuously disregarded health officials’ advice on how to stop the spread of the disease. The recent burst in cases in the White House, they point out, was probably tied to a number of in-person events where allies of the president rubbed elbows in tight quarters while not wearing masks.

Even after his diagnosis, the president continued to act in ways that put his staff in danger of contagion. In a brief foray outside the hospital on Sunday, he greeted supporters from an armored, sealed SUV — potentially putting Secret Service agents in direct contact with the virus. It was a move meant to shore up support, but led to a frenzy of condemnation.

Trump’s camp has made it clear that the president’s stint in the hospital — he was discharged on Monday evening — wasn’t changing their approach to the virus. The campaign snubbed the use of plexiglass separators at the upcoming vice presidential debate, and upon arriving at the White House, Trump removed his mask for a photo op even though he’s likely still contagious.

If anything, it has become a talking point to boost the president as capable of meeting any challenge at the cost of minimizing the virus’ risks.

“We’re not going to

Trump, moving to show strength, aims for Monday release

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — President Donald Trump was hoping for a Monday discharge from the military hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19, a day after he briefly ventured out while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade in a move that disregarded precautions meant to contain the deadly virus that has killed more than 209,000 Americans.

White House officials said Trump was anxious to be released after three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where doctors revealed on Sunday that his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. Still, the doctors said Trump’s health is improving and volunteered that he could be discharged as early as Monday to continue the remainder of his treatment at the White House.

“This is an important day as the president continues to improve and is ready to get back to a normal work schedule,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News on Monday. He said the determination on whether Trump would leave the hospital won’t be made until later in the day after the president is evaluated by his medical team, but that Trump was “optimistic” he could be released Monday.

Less than one month until Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still-infectious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside the hospital, driving by in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear.

The move capped a weekend of contradictions that fueled confusion about Trump’s health, which has imperiled the leadership of the U.S. government and upended the final stages of the presidential campaign. While Trump’s physician offered a rosy prognosis on his condition, his briefings lacked basic information, including the findings of lung scans, or were quickly muddled by more serious assessments of the president’s health by other officials.


In a short video released by the White House on Sunday, Trump insisted he understood the gravity of the moment. But his actions moments later, by leaving the hospital and sitting inside the SUV with others, suggested otherwise.

“This is insanity,” Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed who is a critic of Trump and his handling of the pandemic. “Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die.”

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump’s trip outside the hospital “was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.” He added that precautions were taken, including using personal protective equipment, to protect Trump as well as White House officials and Secret Service agents.

Joe Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said the Democratic presidential nominee again tested negative for coronavirus Sunday. The results come five days after Biden spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Trump. Biden,

As Trump Seeks to Project Strength, Doctors Disclose Alarming Episodes

In addition to the steroids, Mr. Trump has received an experimental antibody cocktail and is in the midst of a five-day course of remdesivir, an antiviral drug. The White House has a medical unit capable of responding to a president’s health troubles but not with the sophisticated equipment available at Walter Reed.

Mr. Trump, who historically hates hospitals and anything related to illness, has been hankering to get released, according to two people close to him, and some aides expressed fear that he would pressure Dr. Conley into releasing him by claiming to feel better than he actually does. But advisers were also troubled by the doctors’ prediction that they might release him on Monday because if they do not, it would signal that the president is not doing as well as indicated. They also worried that a premature return could lead to a second trip to the hospital if his condition worsens.

Mr. Trump was said to be working from his hospital suite, including receiving a briefing via secure video conference from Robert C. O’Brien, his national security adviser, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The president has also been watching lots of television, even more than usual, and has been exasperated by coverage of Saturday’s calamitous handling of his medical information by Dr. Conley and Mr. Meadows, as well as speculation about him transferring powers to Vice President Mike Pence.

He was also angry that no one was on television defending him, as he often is when he cannot inject his own views into news media coverage, aides said. As a result, Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, was expected to appear on several television shows, as was Corey Lewandowski, who was Mr. Trump’s first campaign manager in the 2016 race.

The president was not the only one angry over the weekend. So were many people who work for him at the White House, frustrated at how little information they had received about the health concerns in their workplace. In addition to Mr. Trump, a number of others who work or visit the building regularly have tested positive, including Melania Trump; Hope Hicks, a senior adviser to the president; Nicholas Luna, the director of Oval Office operations; Bill Stepien, the campaign manager; Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee; and Kellyanne Conway, the president’s former counselor.

Two members of the White House residence staff tested positive for the virus a few weeks ago, two people briefed on their cases said, although they were said not to come in close contact with the president or the first lady. Nonetheless, the presence of the virus in the first couple’s personal quarters once again raised questions not just about what they have been exposed to, but whom they have made vulnerable with lax mask policies around the White House.

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Virtual fitness classes allow this community battling addiction to gain strength during lockdown

The Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone — but for the nearly 21 million Americans battling addiction, it can be especially harmful.



Scott Strode sitting in front of a laptop computer: Scott Strode's nonprofit is helping people in recovery stay connected and supported during the pandemic.


© Provided by CNN
Scott Strode’s nonprofit is helping people in recovery stay connected and supported during the pandemic.

“For somebody in recovery, social isolation is a really slippery slope,” said Scott Strode, a 2012 CNN Hero. “It can often lead to the relapse.”

Strode knows firsthand the reality of being in recovery. He was able to overcome his addiction to drugs and alcohol through sports and exercise. Encouraged by his success, in 2007 Strode started his non-profit, The Phoenix, to help others deal with their own addiction.

The organization has provided free athletic activities and a sober support community to more than 36,000 people across the United States.

When Covid-19 hit, the organization had to close its gyms and practice social distancing. But the non-profit found a new way to keep those connections — and quickly pivoted to virtual programming.

Now, clients can log on to free virtual classes offered throughout the day — everything from yoga and strength training to meditation and recovery meetings.

“We hadn’t done virtual programming before, but we pretty quickly learned that it allowed the Phoenix to offer programs to rural communities that we historically couldn’t reach,” Strode said.

The group now has people in recovery joining classes from all across the US, and four other countries. They’ve also been able to bring their programming into prisons nationwide by recording content that is then distributed to inmates.

“I don’t think we’re going to find some magic solution that’s going to fix addiction in all of our communities,” Strode said. “I think we have to do it as a community and be there for each other — letting people step into the pride and strength in their recovery can get us out of this.”

CNN’s Phil Mattingly recently joined a Phoenix class and spoke with Strode about his work. Below is an edited version of their conversation.

Phil Mattingly: What is it about these classes that you feel really resonates with people who are generally going through a pretty tough time?

Scott Strode: I always say that people come to the Phoenix for the workout, but they really stay for the friendships. When we face that greater adversity of that workout together, we build a bond. And in that bond, we find a place where we can support each other in our recovery journey. Often times we keep our struggles in the shadows, in this dark place of shame. There’s something really special about finding a community where you can just be open about all the challenges you’ve faced.

I think we’re all in recovery from something. For me, it just happens to be a substance use disorder. And when I find a community that accepts me and loves me for who I am, it just allows me to build different kinds of friendships.

Mattingly: There’s no silver lining or bright

Virtual fitness classes allow this community battling addiction to gain strength during lockdown | Live Well

Mattingly: There’s no silver lining or bright spots for many people over the last several months. Do you feel that whenever we get back to normal, this will end up almost being beneficial for the reach you were able to achieve?

Strode: I do. The idea that people can find recovery support through Phoenix now, really almost anytime, anywhere in the world is really exciting. It’ll just allow it to reach so many more people because of this virtual platform. I didn’t realize how much that was limiting our ability to get our programs to people who really needed it.

It just always lifts my heart to log into a Phoenix virtual class and meet somebody in recovery who’s doing the workout in their basement somewhere in Tennessee, where we don’t even have in-person programs, but they can come to the Phoenix anyway.

Mattingly: For somebody who’s isolated at home right now, and either they’re in recovery or they have a loved one that’s going through it right now, what would be your message to them?

Strode: If you’re at home and you’re either in recovery or you’re even struggling with your addiction right now, just log into a Phoenix class. You just go to thephoenix.org, you pick a virtual class, you drop in. You can turn your camera off. You don’t even have to talk if you don’t want to. But check one out. And what you’ll realize is that there’s individuals just like you that have either overcome their addiction or are trying to overcome it maybe the same way you are.

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Virtual fitness classes allow this community battling addiction to gain strength during lockdown | Health

Mattingly: There’s no silver lining or bright spots for many people over the last several months. Do you feel that whenever we get back to normal, this will end up almost being beneficial for the reach you were able to achieve?

Strode: I do. The idea that people can find recovery support through Phoenix now, really almost anytime, anywhere in the world is really exciting. It’ll just allow it to reach so many more people because of this virtual platform. I didn’t realize how much that was limiting our ability to get our programs to people who really needed it.

It just always lifts my heart to log into a Phoenix virtual class and meet somebody in recovery who’s doing the workout in their basement somewhere in Tennessee, where we don’t even have in-person programs, but they can come to the Phoenix anyway.

Mattingly: For somebody who’s isolated at home right now, and either they’re in recovery or they have a loved one that’s going through it right now, what would be your message to them?

Strode: If you’re at home and you’re either in recovery or you’re even struggling with your addiction right now, just log into a Phoenix class. You just go to thephoenix.org, you pick a virtual class, you drop in. You can turn your camera off. You don’t even have to talk if you don’t want to. But check one out. And what you’ll realize is that there’s individuals just like you that have either overcome their addiction or are trying to overcome it maybe the same way you are.

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