If President Trump appears on NBC news Thursday night, he is expected to be likely maskless speaking to presenter Savannah Guthrie and the audience, who are seated at least 10 feet away. However, it is unlikely to transmit the coronavirus to any of these people, several experts said.
Since Mr. Trump first announced his diagnosis this month, questions about his infectivity have swirled as it is still unclear when and how he got sick or how severe his symptoms were.
"From a safety and public health perspective, although we do not have all of the information I would like to use to make this call, I think this is probably okay," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, an infectious disease doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Mr Trump announced his positive test in the wee hours of October 2 and received several effective treatments in quick succession, including monoclonal antibodies to give his immune system a boost and a steroid that prevents dangerous inflammation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that infected patients isolate for at least 10 days for mild or moderate illness and up to 20 days for severe symptoms. The steroid dexamethasone obtained from Mr Trump can also extend the duration of infectivity.
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But without information about Mr. Trump's oxygen levels or scans of his lungs, it's impossible to know how severe his illness was, doctors said. Based on the information available, "it sounds like he ultimately had mild to moderate illness," said Dr. Walensky.
After a four-day hospital stay, Mr Trump has mostly recovered at the White House but has appeared at several public events, including a rally on Tuesday in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
The Chief Medical Officer of the White House, Dr. Sean P. Conley, has at times presented cryptic accounts of the president's recovery. On Monday, Dr. Conley, for example, that Mr. Trump tested the Abbott BinaxNOW test negative several times, which is not intended to confirm the absence of the virus. The doctor also alluded to other results not provided by any commercial test.
But on Tuesday, at NBC News' urging, the White House delivered Mr. Trump's result from a P.C.R. Test – the gold standard laboratory diagnosis for the coronavirus – to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Clifford Lane, a clinical director at the National Institutes of Health.
Mr. Trumps P.C.R. The test had a cycle threshold or viral load substitute of 34.3, said Dr. Fauci. According to the C.D.C. People with a threshold above 33 carry little to no live virus. Dr. Fauci and Dr. Lane also examined the results of attempts to grow live viruses from Mr. Trump's samples.
After reviewing the data, they approved Mr. Trump to attend the town hall event. "We are confident that we can say with great confidence that it is non-transferable," said Dr. Fauci in an interview on Wednesday.
Other experts agreed with this assessment. "We actually have several pieces of data that suggest the president is not contagious and that it would be safe for him to attend town hall," said Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease doctor at Columbia University.
Still, some experts questioned Mr Trump's decision to hold a live event so soon after his illness.
"It's also about what it looks like when a rich and powerful person has access to all of these technologies to potentially break out of public health isolation," said Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center.
While Mr Trump is unlikely to pass the virus on to others, NBC News should proceed with extreme caution, she said, adding, "The responsibility now rests with city hall organizers to ensure that some level of mitigation is achieved public health is achieved – efforts such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and ensuring that the room is well ventilated. "