By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican President Donald Trump on Friday prepared to return to the campaign trail with a pair of weekend rallies after his COVID-19 diagnosis sidelined him for a week in the race against Democratic nominee Joe Biden for the White House.
Trump, who announced he had been infected with the coronavirus on Oct. 2 and spent three nights in a military hospital receiving treatment, said late on Thursday he was feeling “really good” and, with a doctor’s blessing, aimed to campaign in Florida on Saturday and in Pennsylvania on Sunday.
Trump’s illness has kept him from crisscrossing the country to rally support and raise cash in the final weeks before the Nov. 3 election. A return to in-person events would be aimed at convincing voters he is healthy enough to campaign and to govern.
While Trump has released several videos on Twitter, he has not appeared in public since he returned home from the hospital on Monday. Biden has continued to campaign, with events scheduled on Friday in Las Vegas, Nevada.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say people who are severely ill with COVID-19 might need to stay home for up to 20 days after symptoms first appear.
Biden, who has sharply criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic, is beating the Republican in national polls, though that lead is narrower in some of the swing states that may determine the election’s outcome.
White House physician Sean Conley said in a memo released on Thursday that Trump had completed his course of therapy for COVID-19, remained stable since returning home from the hospital and could resume public engagements on Saturday.
Sounding hoarse and occasionally pausing and clearing his throat, Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview late