With Coronavirus Cases on the Rise, Trump Continues with Rally in Arizona Tuesday
According to Johns Hopkins Unversity, Arizona currently has the biggest spike in cases nationwide.
As coronavirus cases spike in the south and west of the United States, President Trump is set to hold a rally in Phoenix, Arizona. According to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Arizona with a 3-day average peaking at 3,000 new cases per day.
The Trump reelection campaign has gone with a full-steam-ahead approach despite a lack of nationwide control on the coronavirus. On Saturday, the campaign held the return to rallies at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma with 6,200 people in attendance.
While the arena was less than half-full, Trump supporters were still shoulder-to-shoulder with few masks in sight. The event continued despite six Trump staffers testing positive for the coronavirus ahead of the rally.
Although the campaign and the President’s remarks indicate that the administration is underselling the threat of coronavirus, the Trump campaign demanded attendees sign a waiver saying the campaign would not be held liable if they contracted coronavirus.
The rally in Tulsa, and further planned rallies in Phoenix and beyond also are taking place with the backdrop of civil unrest and antiracist protests sweeping the nation.
The Trump campaign selected Arizona as it is viewed as a battleground state heading into the 2020 presidential election. Donald Trump carried the state in 2016, but the Republicans’ margin of victory was closer than in the two previous elections.
An aggregate of polls has presumed Democratic nominee Joe Biden ahead of Trump in the state by about four points.
But while Trump is focused on reelection, Arizona state officials are scrambling to get a handle on the exploding number of coronavirus cases. Governor Doug Ducey called in the National Guard to help the state with contact tracing.
While mask-wearing was sparse during Trump’s Tulsa rally, Phoenix’s City Council passed a mandatory face-covering rule when six-feet distance could not be kept.
However, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said that the new mask rule would not be enforced at Trump’s rally, set to take place in a megachurch. Instead, she hoped the Republican Governor Ducey would set a good example as he will be in attendance.
However, many have expressed the danger of having thousands of people packed together in an indoor environment. Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said the fact the events are held indoors with few masks and stationary people makes Trump’s rallies “a dangerous combination”.
At the Tulsa rally, Trump said, “when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test.”
White House officials later referred to the comment as “tongue in cheek”.
But the president’s comments do not hold up in several states with rising cases of coronavirus. For example, Florida’s number of new cases is increasing, but testing numbers have held steady over the last several weeks. Alabama, California, South Carolina, and Utah have all had a significant increase in new cases without a significant increase in tests administered.
While Trump officials have laughed off the President’s comments, Democratic senators took the opportunity to question the Administration’s policy on testing.
United States senators sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services asking the department to release $8 billion in the department’s discretionary budget to increase testing and contact tracing.
Senators Chuck Schumer and Patty Murray wrote, “with COVID-19 cases spiking in numerous states, the Administration has not released a plan to distribute this funding. It is critical that the Administration disburse the $8 billion immediately with an emphasis on addressing two major unmet needs: contact tracing and collecting data on COVID-19 racial and ethnic disparities.”