Even with President Trump still hospitalized for Covid-19 on Sunday, officials on his campaign continued to defend his flouting of public health guidelines and refused to acknowledge that it could have led to his infection and the infections of other Republicans.
Steve Cortes, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the president and his associates had taken “tremendous precautions” to avoid the virus, even though Mr. Trump is rarely seen wearing a mask and has held large, and largely mask-free, events in violation of public health recommendations.
Another Trump campaign aide, Jason Miller, made similarly misleading remarks on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” describing Mr. Trump as “the single most protected person on the entire planet” without mentioning the precautions the president has often rejected.
Mr. Cortes outlined a false choice, suggesting that the alternative to holding large events without masks was to remain “hermetically sealed” in the White House. He added that the president had been “unwilling to completely sequester himself, to take no risk, because leaders take risks,” and went on to argue that Mr. Trump’s illness showed the futility of protective measures — many of which the president did not actually take.
Health officials are clear that masks are crucial to controlling the virus. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told senators last month that masks might be even more important than a vaccine.
In a remarkable exchange with the Fox News host Chris Wallace, Mr. Cortes defended the refusal of Mr. Trump’s family members to wear masks at Tuesday’s debate, which Mr. Wallace moderated. Mr. Cortes insisted that masks had been unnecessary because the family tested negative before the debate — even though Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, later tested positive, and even though health officials had explicitly mandated masks regardless of test results.
WALLACE: Everybody was told to wear a mask. Why did the first family and the chief of staff feel that the rules for everybody else didn’t apply to them?
CORTES: Chris, we believe that masks are very useful. The president has worn them on many occasions, including visiting the hospital where he is now a patient — when he was visiting as commander in chief, as a guest to visit soldiers there, he wore a mask. We believe in masks. We also believe in some element of individual choice. People were distanced and they had been tested.
WALLACE: They weren’t distanced and there were rules and there was no freedom of choice. They broke the rules. Why did they break the rules?
CORTES: Look, those chairs were not close together, and again, we also believe that —
WALLACE: It doesn’t matter. They were close together, Steve, and the rules from the Cleveland Clinic were everybody wears a mask. Why didn’t they?
CORTES: Chris, the way you’re starting to harangue me now actually reminds me of what you did to the president during that debate on Tuesday night.
On ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Miller continued to mock Joseph R. Biden Jr. for wearing masks.
“Too often he’s used the mask as a prop,” Mr. Miller said. “Masks are very important, but he could be 20, 30 feet away from the nearest person and still have the mask on. That’s not going to change anything that’s out there. But also, we’ve seen with Joe Biden — I mean, we can’t all just stay in our basement for the rest of our lives.”
Mr. Biden has continued traveling for in-person campaigning while Mr. Trump is hospitalized.
President Trump’s medical team acknowledged delivering an overly rosy description of the president’s illness on Saturday.
“I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true,” Dr. Sean P. Conley, the White House physician, said in a briefing with reporters.
The doctors said that on Friday, Mr. Trump had a “high fever” and that his blood oxygen level dropped, requiring him to be administered oxygen. They said his oxygen level dropped again on Saturday but were not clear on whether he was administered oxygen again.
Dr. Conley said that the president had also been given the steroid dexamethasone on Saturday, which has been shown to help patients who are severely ill with Covid-19, but is typically not used in mild or moderate cases of the disease.
Nonetheless, the doctors said, Mr. Trump is doing better, and they projected he could be discharged as early as Monday. The briefing came a day after a messy and conflicting presentation from the doctors about whether Mr. Trump had serious medical issues on Friday.
Dr. Conley announced on Saturday that the president was “doing great.” But moments later, the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, offered a contradictory assessment, noting “the president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care.”
“We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery,” he added.
Mr. Trump posted a video to Twitter on Saturday evening, offering his own account of his health. “I’m starting to feel good,” he said, adding, “We’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who would be the most powerful man in the nation should President Trump become too ill to continue his duties, has been on the campaign trail despite having been in close contact with the president and being at high risk of having the virus himself.
“There is no way under the sun that Pence should be anywhere but in his home,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, an infectious disease expert at Harvard University. “He was sitting in a sea of people with Covid; there is no way he should go anywhere.”
Though Mr. Pence has tested negative each of the last three days, it is possible to test negative and still be infected early in the course of the virus.
Mr. Pence was last in contact with the president on Tuesday morning at the White House. He may have also been in close contact with several others who tested positive after having attended the White House event last Saturday to celebrate the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Mr. Trump began feeling symptoms as early as Wednesday, and several studies have shown that people are most infectious from one to two days before showing symptoms to about two days after. This could mean that Mr. Trump was already highly infectious on Tuesday.
And it puts Mr. Pence and anyone who came into contact with Mr. Trump on Tuesday squarely at risk. Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, who helped the president at the White House with debate preparation from last Saturday through Tuesday, has tested positive.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is also at risk of being infected, experts say. Although he and Mr. Trump stood more than 12 feet apart at the debate, they were indoors. Studies have shown that indoors, the virus can travel farther than six feet, prompting experts to recommend that Mr. Biden also quarantine and get tested daily.
Mr. Biden has continued to campaign, traveling to Grand Rapids, Mich., on Friday, and holding a virtual town hall with a union on Saturday. He is usually seen wearing a mask at campaign events.
Mr. Pence, meanwhile, has traveled to several states and participated in outdoor and indoor campaign events. On Wednesday, he attended a packed fund-raiser in Atlanta, and on Thursday spoke at two indoor events in Iowa. He did not wear a mask on either day; nor did most attendees.
Mr. Pence’s team has said that he tested negative for the coronavirus on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But tests for the virus can produce false negatives if used too early in the course of infection. The virus can take up to 14 days to show symptoms, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person quarantine for 14 days.
Trump campaign officials said Sunday that Mr. Pence had no plans to curtail his public appearances. “He will be hitting the trail,” Jason Miller, the campaign’s senior adviser, told CNN. “And he’s going to have a very full, aggressive schedule.”
He is scheduled to hold a rally at a police-equipment manufacturer in Arizona on Thursday. His vice-presidential debate against Kamala Harris, on Wednesday in Utah, is also still on.
Donald McNeil Jr. contributed reporting.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to travel to Florida on Monday, brushing aside suggestions that he curtail his campaign appearances until he is certain that he did not contract the coronavirus after sharing a debate stage with President Trump last week.
Medical experts have said it is likely that Mr. Trump was contagious during his debate with Mr. Biden on Tuesday. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines call for 14 days of quarantine for anyone exposed to the virus.
Mr. Biden has tested negative, and his campaign said he was being tested before each trip, but tests are not always reliable in the early stages of an infection. The campaign promised to make the results of each test public.
On Sunday afternoon, the Biden campaign said that Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, planned to visit the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami, then deliver remarks on the economy in the city’s Little Havana neighborhood.
Mr. Biden also plans to participate in an outdoor NBC News town hall in Miami in the evening, campaign officials said.
Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden, emphasized on CNN that he and members of his campaign staff were wearing masks, holding most events outdoors, enforcing social distancing and taking other precautions, and said that because he had been “well over six feet away” from Mr. Trump, “Vice President Biden was not exposed.”
But while six feet is a rule of thumb, it is not a definitive line beyond which there is no risk of exposure. Researchers have established that the virus can travel farther than six feet, particularly indoors.
Juliet Morrison, a virologist at the University of California, Riverside, said that given his proximity to Mr. Trump at a time when the president was probably infectious, Mr. Biden should quarantine.
“The most responsible thing to do in this situation is to just wait and see,” Dr. Morrison said. “And in the meantime, treat yourself as if you are infected.”
Ms. Sanders and Kate Bedingfield, Mr. Biden’s deputy campaign manager, both said they hoped the next presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, could be held safely.
“We hope that they’re going to put in place every adjustment necessary to ensure that it’s fully safe,” Ms. Bedingfield said on ABC, referring to the commission organizing the debates. “And obviously we send President Trump our best. We hope that he is well and able to debate. If he is, Joe Biden will certainly be there.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr. leads President Trump by double digits in two national polls released on Sunday, one of which was conducted after the presidential debate but before Mr. Trump announced that he had the coronavirus, and one of which was conducted after the announcement.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday after the debate, found that 53 percent of registered voters planned to vote for Mr. Biden and 39 percent for Mr. Trump, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The 14-point lead is the largest Mr. Biden has had in any NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this year.
Mr. Biden benefited from huge leads among older voters (62 percent to 35 percent) and suburban women (58 percent to 33 percent). In 2016, most older voters voted for Mr. Trump over Hillary Clinton, exit polls found.
The second poll, conducted by Reuters and Ipsos on Friday and Saturday, after the president said he had the virus, showed Mr. Biden with a 10-point lead over Mr. Trump, 51 percent to 41 percent. The margin of error was plus or minus five percentage points.
Sixty-five percent of respondents in the Reuters/Ipsos poll agreed with the statement that “if Mr. Trump had taken coronavirus more seriously, he probably would not have been infected.” That included roughly nine in 10 registered Democrats and about half of registered Republicans.
In a third poll, by ABC News and Ipsos, 72 percent of respondents said Mr. Trump had not taken the risk of contracting the virus seriously enough, and the same number said he had not taken “the appropriate precautions when it came to his personal health.” That poll did not ask about the election.
Mr. Trump has flouted public health guidelines for months, continuing to hold large rallies — including some indoors, where the risk of transmission is higher — and almost never wearing a mask. At the presidential debate last week, during which he may already have been infected, he mocked Mr. Biden for wearing a mask.
Notably, since the announcement that Mr. Trump was infected, Republicans and independents appear to have become much more concerned that they or someone they know will contract the virus.
Seventy percent of Republicans in the ABC News poll said they were concerned, up from 52 percent just two weeks ago, and 82 percent of independents said they were concerned, up from 69 percent. Among Democrats, the number was unchanged at 86 percent.
Senator Patrick J. Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, will not seek re-election in 2022, vacating a battleground-state race more than two years before he leaves office.
Mr. Toomey, 58, last week informed Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, of his decision not to seek a third term, according to a person familiar with their conversation. The Philadelphia Inquirer, which broke the news of Mr. Toomey’s decision, reported that he would also not run for governor of Pennsylvania in 2022.
Mr. Toomey’s spokesman, Steve Kelly, declined to comment on his decision but said that Mr. Toomey would make an announcement Monday morning.
A fiscal and social conservative who was president of the hard-right Club for Growth before his 2010 Senate campaign, Mr. Toomey carved out a niche as a rare Republican willing to entertain gun control proposals like expanded background checks.
In 2013, he partnered with Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, to put forward background-check legislation after the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut. The bill failed, and the Senate has not considered significant gun control legislation since.
Mr. Toomey’s decision to not seek re-election complicates what was already shaping up to be a tough 2022 map for Republicans. The timing of his announcement, one month before the 2020 general election that has consumed political attention in Pennsylvania, came a surprise.
“It takes away our best candidate,” Rob Gleason, a former chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, said of Mr. Toomey’s decision. “It throws it pretty wide open for sure.”
Along with the now-open seat in Pennsylvania, the party will be defending seats likely to be competitive in Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin — all battlegrounds in the current presidential campaign.
Democrats will be defending far fewer likely competitive seats — in Colorado, New Hampshire and Nevada.
The winner of Arizona’s 2020 Senate race to complete the remainder of Senator John McCain’s term, between Senator Martha McSally, a Republican, and former astronaut Mark Kelly, a Democrat, will also be up for re-election to a full six-year term in 2022.
A short-handed Supreme Court — driven from its courtroom by the pandemic, grieving over the loss of a colleague and awaiting the outcome of a divisive confirmation battle — will return to the virtual bench on Monday to start a term that will present Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. with a daunting test.
“The chief’s leadership of the court, which just a few weeks ago appeared to be at its zenith, is now in peril,” said Richard J. Lazarus, a law professor at Harvard who has taught courses on the Supreme Court with Chief Justice Roberts. “An addition of yet another very conservative justice could quickly eliminate the chief’s ability to steer the court toward moderation.”
The court will again hear arguments by telephone, starting with a timely case on the role of partisanship in judging, a subject that will also figure in Senate hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, which are scheduled to start a week from Monday. President Trump and Senate Republicans have been working hard to speed her path to the seat left vacant by the death last month of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
A court that includes Judge Barrett would thrust Chief Justice Roberts from his spot at the court’s ideological center and empower Mr. Trump’s three appointees, including two current justices, Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, said Lee Epstein, a law professor and political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis.
If Judge Barrett is confirmed before Election Day, she is expected to participate in the two biggest arguments on the docket so far: the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act and a clash between claims of religious freedom and gay rights in the context of foster care.
Justice Ginsburg would almost certainly have voted to uphold the health care law and government programs that prohibit discrimination against gay couples. Judge Barrett’s votes in those cases could provide a telling early sense of how her appointment could shift the direction of the court.
The term that ended in July included a few liberal surprises in cases on abortion, immigration and L.G.B.T. rights. It also included the rejection of Mr. Trump’s categorical claims that he could defy subpoenas for his financial returns, and a string of victories for religious groups. Chief Justice Roberts was in the majority in all of those cases, and he dissented only twice in argued cases in the entire term.
President Trump’s hospitalization has plunged an already volatile race into extraordinary uncertainty, sidelining the president indefinitely with a month until Election Day and making the pandemic a more urgent and delicate issue for Joseph R. Biden Jr.
On Saturday, Mr. Trump remained at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he sought to send a reassuring message that he was “starting to feel good.”
“I think I’ll be back soon,” Mr. Trump, seated at a dark-wood table and wearing a jacket but no tie, said in a video posted on Twitter. “And I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started and the way we’ve been doing.”
But given the uncertain course of the virus, it could be weeks before Mr. Trump can return to the campaign. His aides canceled rallies that were to be held in Florida on Friday and Wisconsin on Saturday and said they would consider future events on a “case-by-case basis.”
Mr. Trump acknowledged that the next few days could be “the real test” in determining his medical condition.
Mr. Biden has for months sought to make the race a referendum on Mr. Trump’s stewardship of the pandemic, but that task has become more sensitive in light of Mr. Trump’s hospitalization.
“I’m in a little bit of a spot here because I don’t want to be attacking the president and the first lady now,” Mr. Biden said at a virtual event on Saturday with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, adding that he had prayed for the couple’s quick recovery.
Still, Mr. Biden criticized the Trump administration for not requiring transit riders to wear masks and for not doing more to get personal protective equipment for workers. “I promise you, I’m going to get you all the P.P.E. that’s necessary,” Mr. Biden said.
After surviving some of the bloodiest combat in Afghanistan, the men of the Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment stayed connected on social media for support at home as they grappled with the fallout of war.
Those close online connections offered something the veterans’ health care system did not: common ground, understanding, friends ready to talk day or night.
But those connections have been frayed to breaking by the partisan rancor of 2020. The Facebook group the men once relied on for support is now clogged with divisive memes and partisan conspiracy theories, disputes over policing and protests, and, of course, strong views on the president.
The din has driven a growing number of members to log off in dismay. Many say they still want to support their fellow Marines but cannot stand the toxic political traffic.
“It hurts my soul to see all this childish drama,” said Keith Branch, a former infantryman of the Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment. “Brothers that formed bonds in war, I see them becoming broken over childish arguments. I disconnect from it — I’m already dealing with post-traumatic stress. It hurts too much to look at it.”
Party strategists and analysts tend to treat veterans as a homogeneous voting bloc, conservative-leaning and focused mainly on defense and benefits issues. In 2016, exit polls showed that veterans backed Mr. Trump over Hillary Clinton by nearly two to one. Demographics are part of the reason — veterans skew old and male and white, and so does the core of Mr. Trump’s support.
But veterans are increasingly diverse in their outlook, and deeply divided over the coming election. Younger veterans and active-duty troops, who tend to include more women and are less white than older veterans, are especially split. And with those splits have come the same type of infighting among veterans that is now so common at family gatherings.
“There are many stories of battle buddies that fought together in combat together, and now they won’t talk because of politics,” said Alex McCoy, a former Marine who is now political director of Common Defense, a political action group working to mobilize veterans to vote against Mr. Trump. “It’s heartbreaking.”
The Trump campaign is not changing its advertising or messaging, even with the candidate in the hospital. The political operation is not bereft of leaders; the campaign manager is still helping run things from afar after testing positive for the virus. Advisers are not showing any evidence of worry, despite public polls showing President Trump still behind in key states he won in 2016.
On the first weekend of the new Trump political reality, the overarching signals were about continuity and resolve, even though the landscape was one of change: rallies canceled in Wisconsin, fund-raising reworked without the incumbent candidate and campaign operations adjusting on the fly.
At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence held a call with the Trump-Pence re-election staff nationwide, trying to rally the troops and lay out the plans for the coming weeks.
Despite the almost unthinkable circumstances for a campaign whose fund-raising, events and political pitches have all been driven by the president himself, Mr. Pence tried to signal that the campaign was trying to proceed as if little has changed.
“‘Make America Great Again’ isn’t just a slogan; it’s our mission,” Mr. Pence said on the call.
Matt Gorman, a Republican strategist, said the campaign’s only option was to plow forward.
“The leader of the campaign may be off the field for now,” he said. “But people are voting right now. The blocking and tackling of knocking doors, making phone calls and getting people to the polls must continue. They can’t worry about what they can’t control and must work relentlessly at what they can.”
To compensate for Mr. Trump’s absence, the campaign is trying to deploy as many Trump family members, who are popular with the president’s supporters, as is possible while the president is off the trail.
Justin Clark, the deputy campaign manager, is filling in at the headquarters in Virginia for the campaign manager, Bill Stepien. But Mr. Stepien is working remotely from home, officials said, and telling other staff members that he feels fine. He participated on the call with staff members across the country on Saturday. (Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a top political adviser, has not needed to play a greater role in the candidate’s absence.)
The campaign hopes to be able to tell a story of what one adviser described as “resolve,” with the president — and several top aides — overcoming a virus that Mr. Trump has for months played down.
Joe Biden leads Donald Trump in Florida and Pennsylvania. Both states are crucial to Mr. Trump’s re-election chances.
|2016 Election Result||NYT/Siena
Based on New York Times/Siena College polls of 710 likely voters in Florida from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 and 706 likely voters in Pennsylvania from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.
By overwhelming margins, voters in Pennsylvania and Florida were turned off by President Trump’s conduct in the first general election debate, according to New York Times/Siena College surveys, as Joseph R. Biden Jr. maintained a lead in the two largest battleground states.
Over all, Mr. Biden led by seven percentage points, 49 percent to 42 percent, among likely voters in Pennsylvania. He led by a similar margin, 47-42, among likely voters in Florida.
The surveys began Wednesday, before the early Friday announcement that Mr. Trump had contracted the coronavirus. There was modest evidence of a shift in favor of Mr. Biden in interviews on Friday, including in Arizona where a Times/Siena survey is in progress, after controlling for the demographic and political characteristics of the respondents.
One day of interviews is not enough to evaluate the consequences of a major political development, and it may be several days or longer before even the initial effects of Mr. Trump’s diagnosis can be ascertained by pollsters.
The debates long loomed as one of the president’s best opportunities to reshape the race in his favor. He has trailed in Pennsylvania and Florida from the outset of the campaign, and he does not have many credible paths to the presidency without winning at least one of the two — and probably both.
Instead, a mere 22 percent of likely voters across the two pivotal states said Mr. Trump won the debate Tuesday. It leaves the president at a significant and even daunting disadvantage with a month until Election Day.
But while Mr. Trump failed to capitalize on a rare opportunity to claw back into the race, the findings suggest that the debate did not shift the contest decisively in Mr. Biden’s direction, either. The results were close to the average of pre-debate surveys in both states, another reflection of the unusually stable polling results ahead of the election. In Pennsylvania, the race was even somewhat closer than it was in a Times/Siena poll conducted before the debate, which found Mr. Biden ahead by nine percentage points.
The lack of additional gains by Mr. Biden after the first debate might have been all but inevitable in a deeply polarized country. But it might also suggest that Mr. Biden, like the president, failed to capitalize on opportunities of his own.
President Trump’s bombshell announcement early Friday morning that he and the first lady had tested positive for the coronavirus has set off a frenzy in the White House and beyond as politicians and operatives who have interacted with Mr. Trump in recent days have raced to get their own tests and, in some cases, report the results.
Here is a quick look at the people in Mr. Trump’s orbit and beyond who have spoken publicly about their health and the virus, taken from official statements, and announcements made on social media and by spokespersons.
It can take several days after exposure for the virus to reach levels that are detectable by a test. People show symptoms on average around five days after exposure, but as late as 14 days.
Who has tested positive:
Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee
Hope Hicks, one of Mr. Trump’s most senior advisers
Bill Stepien, President Trump’s campaign manager
Kellyanne Conway, the former top White House adviser, who attended Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination ceremony at the White House on Sept. 26
Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who participated in a debate against his Democratic challenger on Thursday
Rev. John I. Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame, who also attended the ceremony for Judge Barrett last week
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who did not attend Judge Barrett’s ceremony last week
The former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who helped the president prepare for the debate
Nick Luna, the head of Oval Office operations at the White House
Who has tested negative:
Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state
Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary
William P. Barr, the attorney general
Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff
Dan Scavino, the White House deputy chief of staff
Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser
Ivanka Trump, Mr. Trump’s daughter
Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Trump’s son
Barron Trump, Mr. Trump’s son
Eric Trump, Mr. Trump’s son
Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife
Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee
Betsy DeVos, the education secretary
Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska and a member of the Judiciary Committee. He attended Judge Barrett’s ceremony.
Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri and a member of the Judiciary Committee. He attended Judge Barrett’s ceremony.