Donald Trump eager to get back to work in Oval Office, White House has 'safety protocols' for him to do so - chief of staff

US President Donald Trump, under coronavirus quarantine in the White House and restricted from travelling, is grasping for ways to put a spark back in his struggling re-election bid and mount a comeback with four weeks left until election day.

Trump has been looking for options on how to get his message out and cut into Democrat Joe Biden's lead in battleground states where the November 3 election will be decided, advisers said.

They said they had been discussing Trump delivering a national address, while a speech to senior voters is being contemplated for Thursday (local time). Vice President Mike Pence's debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris in Salt Lake City will take centre stage of the campaign on Wednesday.

Trump aides say he is impatient to get back on the campaign trail and insistent on debating Biden on October 15 in Miami, but Biden said on Tuesday he will not participate if Trump is not virus-free.

"I feel great!" Trump said in a statement released on Thursday morning (NZ time) by White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The White House's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said on Wednesday that Trump was eager to get back to work in the Oval Office. He has been working from a makeshift space in his residence in the White House since returning on Monday from three days in hospital.

"He wanted to go to the Oval yesterday. If he decides to go to the Oval we've got safety protocols there," Meadows told reporters, adding there would be adequate personal protective equipment and ventilation.

He described Trump, who has received treatment with a steroid that is normally used in the most severe cases, as being "in very good health".

Shaun Conley, Trump's physician, said the President has now been fever-free for more than four days and symptom free for over 24 hours.

"His physical exam and vital signs, including oxygen saturation and respiratory rate, all remain stable and in normal range.

"We'll continue to closely monitor and I will update you as I know more."

Any political boost Trump could get from a fresh injection of stimulus money into US citizens' pockets appears to be out of reach after he abruptly ended negotiations with Democrats on Tuesday, with both sides far apart on how much money to devote to a deal.

Both Biden and the top Democrat in the US Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accused Trump of abandoning needy Americans. Republican Senator Susan Collins, facing a tough re-election bid in her home state of Maine, called Trump's move a "huge mistake".

"The President turned his back on you," Biden said in a Twitter post.

With layoffs in key industries mounting by the day and threatening the fragile recovery, Trump late on Tuesday urged Congress to quickly pass US$25 billion in funding for passenger airlines, $135 billion for small businesses and provide $1200 stimulus checks for Americans.

"I am ready to sign right now," Trump said on Twitter.

Meadows said he was not optimistic that a deal could be reached and that the Trump administration backed a more piecemeal approach.

"We're still willing to be engaged, but I'm not optimistic for a comprehensive deal. I am optimistic that there's about 10 things that we can do on a piecemeal basis," Meadows told Fox News.

Meadows did not say what 10 items the administration wanted to tackle, but reiterated Trump's position that he would back separate legislation addressing airlines, small businesses and stimulus checks for individuals.

Trump's drive to get Judge Amy Coney Barrett confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate before the election also may be in doubt, since three Republican senators have been infected with the coronavirus and may not be able to vote.

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump. Photo credit: Getty

Costly absence

A wave of infections at the White House among Trump's top lieutenants and press office aides has left the West Wing struggling to find its footing. The latest infection came on Tuesday when immigration hawk and chief speechwriter Stephen Miller put out a word he had tested positive.

ABC News said a count of cases related to the White House was now 23, including Trump and his wife, Melania.

Trump has attempted to use his coronavirus infection to his political advantage, making a dramatic prime-time exit from Walter Reed military hospital on Monday and whipping off his face mask before the cameras on his return to the White House.

He depicted himself as a man who vanquished the disease and emerged stronger.

"Don't be afraid of COVID. Don't let it dominate your life," he said in a widely criticised Twitter post on Monday.

But Trump's handling of the virus since it first began infecting people early this year has been met with deep skepticism from US citizens who have told pollsters he played down the calamity and has failed to express empathy for the more than 210,000 who have died.

Advisers say Trump wanted to be talking about other issues instead of the virus by this stage of the campaign, to put pressure on Biden.

Trump's absence on the campaign trail appears to have been costly for him. He had been expected to go on a swing this week through Western states to raise millions of dollars for a campaign facing a deficit to Biden's well-funded effort.

One adviser noted that almost exactly four years ago in 2016, Trump's campaign was knocked off the rails by release of an "Access Hollywood" tape in which he boasted about groping women. He went on to beat the odds and win the election.

"He's the real comeback kid and if anybody can come back from something it's him," the adviser said.

Reuters / Newshub.