As if we needed any more evidence, the past 12 hours have driven home how Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is a major public health threat.
Late last night, President Trump announced on Twitter that he and the First Lady had tested positive for COVID-19. It’s a destabilizing development for the country and the presidential campaign — if not a particularly unexpected one, given his behavior — as we approach Election Day.
But the even more disturbing information came from Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs just before Trump’s announcement, in an article that detailed the timeline of a White House outbreak.
“Only a very small circle of people knew that [Hope] Hicks had tested positive, and senior staff had hoped to keep that information private, two of the people said,” Jacobs reported.
Hours earlier on Thursday, Bloomberg reported that White House adviser Hope Hicks, who travels closely with the President, had tested positive for the virus. A test on Wednesday morning came back negative for Hicks, who boarded Air Force One for a campaign trip with the President to Minnesota. During that day, she started to exhibit symptoms and was given another test, which came back positive.
Today, the White House said that Trump learned of Hicks’ diagnosis before taking off to New Jersey on Thursday, where Trump held an in-person fundraiser with donors.
“In between learning the news of Hicks’ infection Thursday morning and announcing his own early Friday, Trump stuck to his prepared schedule. That decision would appear to contradict the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on COVID,” Bloomberg reported.
Trump had already started to show signs of symptoms, though aides brushed it off as fatigue from a heavy campaign schedule.
That means that Trump attended a campaign event, in person, even after learning that a close adviser had tested positive and after starting to show symptoms. Given what we’ve learned about the virus this past year, it’s quite likely that Trump would have been actively infectious to other people during his campaign event.
This recklessness from the President is nothing new, but it’s still striking that the White House tried to cover up the White House outbreak (RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has also tested positive).
It’s fortunate to Iowa that Vice President Mike Pence tested negative for the virus this morning, given that he held an indoor campaign rally and event in Iowa just yesterday.
Despite Trump’s false insistence on the debate stage on Tuesday night that his campaign events were held outside, Pence’s rally in Carter Lake was an indoor event where few people wore masks.
.@VP is currently delivering remarks at a Make America Great Again rally in Carter Lake, Iowa.
The event is indoors and most of the audience isn’t wearing face masks. There are more than 200 people here. pic.twitter.com/oiZJn2sDvJ
— Daniella Díaz (@DaniellaMicaela) October 1, 2020
He would later speak to about 600 people at an indoor event with the Family Leader group in Des Moines, where reporters noted that most people took off their masks once getting into the venue.
These constant Trump campaign events that flout the safety precautions for the coronavirus have been bad enough, but it’s clear now that the campaign and White House will actively try to cover up infections among top officials. Had Jacobs not broken the news about Hicks’ diagnosis, it may have been days more before the public learned about Trump’s positive test.
Bottom line: Trump’s campaign simply cannot be trusted on the coronavirus. They will attend in-person events even when they know people directly around them tested positive. Pence himself could have tested positive before his Iowa trip, or people around him may have, and we likely never would have known.
They are a walking, breathing, active threat to the public health of Iowans.
Iowa is currently the sixth-worst state in the U.S. for new positive cases over the past week, the New York Times coronavirus tracker shows. The state has remained in the top ten for about two months now. Multiple counties, mostly in deeply conservative areas now, are routinely showing 15% to 30% positivity ratings in their testing. It is beyond likely, given the runaway spread of the virus in Iowa, that there are several, if not dozens, of people at these packed Republican and conservative events that have COVID-19. And that’s without even knowing whether the speakers themselves have it.
Republican officials, both state and local, in the state have shown an absolute reckless disregard for safety during this pandemic, constantly holding large, packed fundraisers indoors where few people wear masks and social distancing is practically nonexistent. Gov. Kim Reynolds is often seen without a mask, despite her insistence otherwise.
The double standard for Reynolds, who has imposed new restrictions in college towns after students spread the virus from packed bars, has been absurd.
For Iowans just trying to survive 2020, it is not simply the misguided policies and inept management of the coronavirus by Republicans that’s putting them at risk. It’s Republican candidates and officials themselves, from the presidency on down, who are actively threatening to spread the virus to more Iowans by their reckless actions.
It needs to end. No more Trump campaign rallies should be held in this state (or anywhere, really) as long as they refuse to take anything about this pandemic seriously.
by Pat Rynard
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