Donald Trump will hold a rally in Wisconsin on Saturday night, despite state health officials declaring a pandemic coronavirus crisis and his own experts warning that public gatherings there are at risk of becoming cause of “preventable death”.
Cases are on the rise in Wisconsin, as it is on the other side of the Americas. On Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University, the US passed 8m confirmed cases. The death toll is close to 220,000. Both numbers are the highest in the world.
The Trump rally is scheduled for Janesville, a small city south of the critical swing state, where Trump passes Joe Biden nearly eight points on poll averages. The president was due to campaign there on October 3, before he contracted a coronavirus and was airlifted to the hospital.
Earlier this week, Trump̵7;s own White House campaign warned Wisconsin, which is considered to be in the “red zone” for high rates of infection, saying people should avoid more if they want cause “preventable death”.
The warning was included in a weekly report issued to the governors but was not made public. This was reported by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), an investigative nonprofit in Washington.
The report urged people in Wisconsin to be vigilant about “wearing masks, avoiding bodies, hygiene, avoiding public gatherings and social gatherings in private”.
“Wisconsin’s ability to limit … hospitals and deaths depends on increased scrutiny of community-based social mitigation measures until cases decline,” it said, adding that “the lack of following these steps will lead to unavoidable deaths “
Trump’s rally will be held outside, at the Janesville airport. Attendees will be required to wear masks, but such instructions have not been implemented in other rallies, where social exclusion has not been observed.
Trump’s election website urges attendees to waive the campaign of any liability if they fall ill and say that “by registering for this event, you understand and clearly acknowledge that there is a natural risk of exposure to Covid- 19 exists in any public place where people are present ”.
Registrants should voluntarily “take all risks” associated with catching coronavirus.
“It indicates that they know the reality, because if they do not worry about it they will not bother,” William Hanage, a Harvard epidemiologist, told CPI. He said the virus could spread among the crowd at the rally, even outside, and at any celebration indoors.
“Given the disease rates currently in Wisconsin, we can say pretty much this category will create an opportunity for transmission,” Hanage said.
Janesville is in the province of Rock, where earlier this week it reported the highest rates for coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and positive testing, according to local media.
The province had nearly 1,000 cases and 143 new positives were reported on Monday, the most in a day, according to state health data. Of the test results reported, a new high of 83% was positive.
Trump had earlier planned to rally in Janesville after officials at La Crosse, on the Minnesota border, urged him not to hold an event there because the city was a “red zone” of coronavirus.
Rock county board chairman Kara Purviance asked Trump not to hold the event in Janesville either, saying:
Rock county manager Josh Smith told the Janesville Gazette that the county was taking a different approach, because he did not think asking the president not to visit would “result in any different outcome”.
“Based on our previous campaign talks and the information we released, we believe everyone is aware of our concerns about gatherings and the need to follow public health guidelines. At this point, we urge all attend to mask, stay away from physical, clean. “
With more than 1,000 Covid-19 patients at a hospital in Wisconsin, the state this week opened an overflow facility, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
“We are in crisis here in Wisconsin, and so we are ready to accept patients as needed,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the state health department. “The driveway doesn’t look good. We need to be prepared for that.”