US President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail on Monday for the first time since he announced his Covid-19 diagnosis.
As Donald Trump arrived at the outdoor rally in Florida without a protective mask, he tossed out masks to thousands of supporters standing shoulder to shoulder, most without protective face coverings, and repeatedly talked about his recovery from the coronavirus.
“I went through it now. They say I'm immune. I feel so powerful," Trump told the crowd. “I will kiss everyone in that audience, I will kiss the guys and the beautiful women, I will give you a big fat kiss," Trump was quoted as saying Reuters.
The rally in Florida indicated that Trump had not reshaped his campaign approach or outlook since contracting the coronavirus, which has infected more than 7.8 million people in the United States, killed more than 214,000 and put millions out of work.
Trump: It's risky, but you gotta get out
He told supporters that coronavirus safety lockdowns had done great damage to the economy and were too drastic.
"It's risky, but you gotta get out," Trump told supporters, who chanted: "We love you."
Critics have faulted Trump for failing to encourage supporters at campaign events, and White House staff, to wear protective masks and abide by social-distancing guidelines.
At least 11 close Trump aides have tested positive for the virus.
Trump tests negative for Covid-19: White House
Trump's rally on Monday came hours after the White House said he had tested negative for Covid-19 on consecutive days and was not infectious to others. They were the president's first negative Covid-19 tests announced by the White House since Trump said on October 2 that he contracted the virus.
In a memo, Dr Sean Conley did not say when the tests were conducted but that they and other clinical and laboratory data "indicate a lack of detectable viral replication."
On Sunday, Trump's assertion that he was now immune to the virus, made without evidence, drew a flag from Twitter for violating the social media platform's rules about misleading information related to Covid-19.
Scientific research has been inconclusive on how long people who have recovered from Covid-19 have antibodies and are protected from a second infection.
(With Reuters inputs)