President Donald Trump continues to hold large campaign events that public health experts say could lead to more infections and death amid a raging pandemic that has cost 200,000 American lives and counting.
The U.S. reached the grim milestone this week as Trump addressed thousands of supporters who were jammed together, mostly without masks, in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, where he mocked his Democratic rival Joe Biden for wearing a face mask.
Trailing badly in the polls and fighting for reelection, Trump has flouted coronavirus restrictions by rallying supporters at crucial battleground states across the country. He has two campaign events scheduled this week in Florida and Virginia.
The president and his supporters defended holding rallies by calling them “peaceful protests,” justifying skirting state rules limiting gatherings by pointing to national demonstrations against racial injustice. His allies also believe the images of crowded events compared to those of Biden, who has eschewed them out of safety, are a positive sign of enthusiasm for the president.
But Democrats say Trump is putting at risk the health of not only his own supporters but the general public, who could become infected by rallygoers days after the events are over.
“He’s got superspreader events all over the country,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told HuffPost. “I think it’s completely irresponsible for the president of the United States to be encouraging people to jeopardize their health.”
At least one person who attended Trump’s Freeland, Michigan, rally on Sept. 10 has since tested positive for the coronavirus, according to NBC. Michigan health officials could not confirm whether the person contracted the disease at the event, which drew about 10,000 people, according to CNN.
Very little social distancing and not many masks inside crowded airport hangar in Michigan for Trump rally. pic.twitter.com/KcdYmFYQWR— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 10, 2020