Trump Georgia Rally Will Be In County Hard Hit By Coronavirus
By now the pattern is all too predictable. Wherever Donald Trump brings together thousands of mostly unmasked people for one of the campaign-style rallies that feed his enormous ego, a spike in coronavirus cases slams the community 10-14 days later. Tonight there’s a likelihood of that history repeating itself when the president goes to Dalton, Ga., for what he’s billing as a “victory rally” to support Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in advance of Tuesday’s runoff election.
The event will be held in the northwest Georgia county of Whitfield, in which one in 10 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. It currently has the fifth highest infection rate out of 159 Georgia counties and recently was ranked number one. On Thursday, hospitals in the surrounding area reported that intensive care beds were over capacity. At 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, there was only one ICU bed available in the region. Any resulting surge in coronavirus cases will be sure to overwhelm the area’s health care infrastructure.
This latest Trump rally has all the earmarks of becoming another super-spreader event. Organizers say they’re expecting as many as 20,000 people to attend in the heart of Georgia’s conservative base. Republican organizers plan to hold the event outside at the Dalton Municipal Airport, distribute masks and make hand sanitizer available, according to Andrew Wiersma, the airport’s manager. While outdoor events generally are consider safer than indoor gatherings, public health officials say there’s still high risk of spread with so many people in close quarters or if they interact in poorly ventilated areas.
Lynn Laughter, the Republican outgoing chairman of the Whitfield County Commission, says she won’t attend the rally. “Wherever [Trump] goes, people are not wearing masks and it is just a hot spot for people getting COVID,” she said. “I wouldn’t go because I wouldn’t feel safe going.”