Politics

Trump's resumption of pandemic rallies reveals how little he has discovered about coronavirus

President Donald Trump is rushing to go back on the campaign just a week after leaving the hospital and before it is even clear he tested negative for the coronavirus. (Minutes before this story was published, Trump's doctor posted a letter claiming Trump had "tested NEGATIVES on consecutive days with the Abbott BinaxNOW antigen card.")

Trump will hold a rally in Sanford, Florida on Monday night, following polls showing the president's race is leaning towards a landslide in Biden. It will be his first since a trip to Minnesota on Sept. 30 that saw White House adviser Hope Hicks contract Covid-19. This marks the beginning of an extraordinarily intense three week campaign for the President. Trump has reportedly asked his campaign to schedule in-person events for him every evening between Monday and election day. An adviser expressed concern to Axios that Trump "will kill himself".

While Trump's recent television and radio interviews show he is feeling better, at least physically, than the days immediately following his October 2 announcement that he tested positive for the coronavirus, the president wants people to believe he is first person in the world to test positive and then actually feel better a week later.

For example, during a Sunday morning appearance on Fox News, Trump claimed without evidence that he was "immune" to the virus but did not answer a question about what precautions his campaign would take to keep people safe at his rallies. With that in mind, during a separate appearance on Fox News, Trump campaign officer Lara Trump distracted questions about the safety of Trump, who was holding face-to-face events.

The fact is, Trump's campaign plans don't seem to do much. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say large gatherings where it is difficult to keep physical distance from others (such as political rallies) are the "highest risk" of spreading events, but the campaign's response is on Asking how they were against governance was to suggest that the right of assembly trumps public health.

Rally participants will continue to be required to sign a waiver releasing the campaign from any responsibility when signing Covid-19. And early pictures from Sanford show there won't be much social distancing or mask-wearing.

While Trump's event is supposed to take place outdoors on Monday, that doesn't mean it's completely safe. For example, consider the aftermath of Trump's September 18 rally in Bemidji, Minnesota.

Trump's recent rallies in Minnesota left a trail of Covid-19

The Bemidji rally is perhaps best remembered because Trump praised his almost entirely white audience for their “good genes” and because it really began when news of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg broke. But it was back in the news late last week after the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced that nine coronavirus cases – including two that had to be hospitalized and one that put a person in intensive care – have been associated with it.

While it is impossible to know for sure that the nine infections occurred at the rally, MDH spokesman Doug Schultz told Politico that all nine people “attended the rally when they were likely exposed to the virus that made them sick did (ie 14 days before the onset of illness). “He added that at least one person at the rally was likely to be contagious.

Trump's last rally before announcing his coronavirus diagnosis was about three hours from Bemidji in Duluth, Minnesota on September 30 – about 48 hours before Trump ended up hospitalized with his own coronavirus diagnosis. The MDH also alerted the Duluth incident, releasing a statement stating that "transmission of COVID-19 by the St. Louis County community was high prior to this week's rally and those attending the rally were potentially contagious without to notice it. ”

"People should consider getting tested even if they don't have symptoms, as some people may not develop or recognize symptoms and people can spread the virus even without showing symptoms," the statement added.

However, on Monday evening, the Trump campaign is using unreliable temperature checks to identify possible coronavirus carriers. When you put it all together, you can understand why Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN Monday that Trump's pandemic rallies are a bad idea from a public health perspective.

“We know it will cause trouble if you do. We have seen that in gathering situations where there are many people without a mask, the data speaks for itself, "Fauci said, adding that the rallies are a particularly bad idea right now as new coronavirus cases re-emerge Rise across the country.

"We know this creates problems when you do this. We have seen that in gathering situations where there are many people without a mask, the data speaks for itself" – Fauci says Trump's pandemic rallies do so are bad from a public health perspective pic.twitter.com/eNV07VMQj6

– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 12, 2020

Trump is still selling false hope that the coronavirus will magically go away

If you were hoping that Trump's coronavirus hospitalization could lead him to reconsider the wisdom of holding rallies during a pandemic, he dispersed that even before leaving Walter Reed's medical center with a tweet advising people: "Don't be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life."

I'm leaving the large Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 p.m. I feel really good! Do not be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life. We have developed some really great drugs and knowledge under the Trump administration. I feel better than 20 years ago!

– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2020

But this topic of conversation is cold comfort to the loved ones of the nearly 215,000 Americans who lost their lives to Covid-19, not to mention the thousands of others who survived with adverse health effects. And as CNN elaborated on Monday, the latest case numbers suggest that things are headed in the wrong direction:

According to Johns Hopkins University, the virus is trending in 31 states and declining in just three. On Saturday alone, more than 54,000 new infections were registered with a further 618 deaths. The high baseline of the falls means an impending spike could be even more severe than the virus storm that raged through the northeast and south in the spring and summer.

The latest forecast from the Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment at the University of Washington School of Medicine suggests nearly 395,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths could occur by February 1.

Voters blame Trump. A new poll by Washington Post-ABC shows the failed response to the coronavirus is a major headwind for its campaign. Almost two-thirds of respondents said they disagree that Trump took reasonable precautions to reduce the likelihood of contracting the disease himself.

But instead of dealing with this reality, Trump falsely insisted on Saturday that the coronavirus "go away".

Trump falsely claims that the coronavirus is "going away" and then suggests that the situation in the US is not that different from elsewhere, saying, "Very big flare-up in Canada." Canada had about 2,500 new coronavirus cases as of Friday while the US had more than 58,000. pic.twitter.com/gzeHPZ2O6O

– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 10, 2020

And on Sunday, Trump positively compared his response to a projection from the early days of the pandemic, based on a model where the U.S. government did nothing to slow the spread of the virus.

Trump wants you to believe "the prediction" was that 2.2 million Americans would die from coronavirus. The fact that we're at 214,000 is a sign of how great it is. It refers to the projected death toll if the government literally did nothing. pic.twitter.com/mWuOKaFy8F

– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 11, 2020

While it is questionable whether it is good policy for Trump to go on the road to recklessly rallies about the coronavirus he likely got in reckless events, it is certainly not good public health practice .

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