President Donald Trump responded to recent news that his youngest son, 14-year-old Barron, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) — saying at a campaign rally Wednesday night that Barron had since recovered and was "free."
Referring to a Wednesday statement released by his wife, Melania Trump, the president said, "Our first lady, she put out that Barron has tested positive. And I said, 'Wow,' and we talked about it, and I said, 'You put it out there' … And, you know, it's like personal stuff."
The president added that Barron, whose diagnosis was undisclosed before Mrs. Trump announced it, only had COVID-19 for "like two seconds" and already made a full recovery.
He cited his son's response to the virus as a reason schools around the country should re-open.
Both Trump and the first lady tested positive for the virus early this month and have since recovered, they said.
Pointing to his son's example, Trump on Wednesday night repeated a familiar claim that children emerge unscathed from the virus — though many kids, and even some infants, have been sickened. Experts have said that creates the possibility they pass the virus onto a more vulnerable person, though children make up only a fraction of confirmed coronavirus deaths so far.
"[Barron] had it for such a short period of time, I don't even think he knew he had it," Trump said. "Because they're young and their immune systems are strong and they fight it off 99.9 percent. And Barron is beautiful, and he's free, free … Because people have it and it goes. Get the kids back to school, you've got to get the kids back to school … Get 'em back."
Citing a lack of research regarding how the virus affects kids, public health officials have cautioned against school re-openings. Trump himself, though, has pushed for schools to re-open for months, even saying he would withhold federal funding from districts that don't.
Barron's own private school initially held off on in-person instruction due to the pandemic, though it has begun to slowly reintroduce in-person, socially-distanced classes for some students, according to its website.
The president also addressed his own COVID-19 diagnosis, which ultimately saw him hospitalized for three days and led to a fever and drop in oxygen.
"And when I had it … I didn't love it," Trump said, insinuating that, while he has since been treated with a number of medications, he might not have needed them. "Maybe I would have been perfect anyway. I like to say I didn't need it, I would have been perfect anyway because I'm so strong."
Since he was infected, Trump has continued to downplay the virus compared to the seasonal flu — which annually kills a fraction of the 210,000-plus killed by the coronavirus in the U.S. so far — and said people should not let it “dominate” them.
At another campaign event on Thursday — which the president resumed in earnest not long after he returned home from his COVID-19 hospitalization — Trump said of his son, "My Barron. My tall Barron. He is tall. My beautiful Barron, he had it and recovered so fast."
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