Despite growing fears of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Donald Trump plans to continue his campaign “as normal,” with no intention of canceling rallies. While Trump does not have any rallies scheduled at this time, his campaign’s principal deputy communications director told ABC News that they would announce rallies when they are ready. “President Trump had a town hall this week, a fundraiser and we have loads of campaign events on the event schedule on the website,” Erin Perrine said.
The president continues to dismiss the severity of the virus and defended holding rallies twice this past weekend, including once during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The CDC, however, has advised that, while the immediate health risk from the virus is considered low, the public should take precautions, including choosing to “modify, postpone, or cancel large events for the safety and well-being” of those involved and the community as a whole. During his visit to the CDC, Trump referred to a recent rally in North Carolina and said that, despite concern over the virus, thousands of people came out in support.
Asked by reporters whether it was advisable for the public to attend rallies during the virus outbreak, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar dodged the question. “I’m in my official capacity, I don’t speak about campaign events and campaign activities,” Azar said during a briefing on the administration’s efforts to combat the virus. “It’s not proper.” Azar said that people with medical issues that might render them vulnerable to the virus should think twice about attending large gatherings; he himself hasn’t attended any of Trump’s rallies, he added. These concerns do not seem to affect Trump’s schedule, though: “We will have tremendous rallies and we’re doing very well and we’ve done a fantastic job with respect to that subject on the virus,” Trump said Saturday.
Rallies are not the only form of campaigning that has raised concerns amidst the virus outbreak. Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Monday that as the coronavirus spreads, candidates should reconsider campaign strategies.”Look, the style of campaigning has always evolved from people campaigning on their front porches — and just the crowds would come to them — to whistle-stop tours on trains,” he said. “Now, we might be forced by this crisis, but with all of the different capabilities and possibilities for reaching voters, we should find new ways to do this if it’s the right thing to do — not just for the candidates’ safety, but for that of the voters.” While Trump has been stubborn in refusing to cancel or postpone rallies during the outbreak, other candidates, including Bernie Sanders, have also indicated they do not have plans to alter activities
As of Saturday, there are more than 400 reported cases of the virus in the U.S., research by Johns Hopkins University found. As of this report, there are cases across 34 states with over 22 deaths reported in the country; Washington State, New York, California, and Oregon have all declared state of emergencies, The New York Times reported.
Two Republican members of Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, announced Sunday that they would self-quarantine after both had interacted with a person at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference who tested positive for the virus. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also attended the conference. Asked if Trump is worried about possibly having been exposed to coronavirus at the conference, according to CNN, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News Monday that he was not: “The President of the United States as we all know is quite a hand washer. He uses hand sanitizer all the time. He is not concerned about this at all.” Trump continues to be unfazed by the virus and growing public fear. Who knows when he will wake up and realize that this isn’t “fake news”?