It’s difficult to tell if Donald Trump wants Wisconsinites to vote for him or kill them. Even though the most recent White House Coronavirus Task Force governors report declares the political swing state a COVID-19 red state with infections rapidly rising, Trump is planning to hold two large rallies in Green Bay and La Crosse this Saturday.
Wisconsin currently has the third-highest rate of new cases in the country, with 243 new cases per 100,000 people. The state’s Department of Health Services Tuesday reported 17 deaths due to the virus, bringing the death toll to 1,300 people. It was the highest number of deaths reported in a single day since late May. Hospitals and ICUs in Green Bay and neighboring communities are nearing capacity.
Trump’s plan to go forward with the rallies directly contradicts the recommendations of his own task force: “During the intense period of viral surge, large numbers of acutely infected individuals caused exponential growth in infections. To the maximal degree possible, increase social distancing mitigation measures until cases decline.”
Gov. Tony Evers (D) said the state is descending into its worst crisis since the pandemic began. “We are nine months into this pandemic, and right now it’s not slowing down, it’s picking up speed,” Evers said. He said Trump should either cancel his rallies or should insist that attendees wear masks to avoid making the situation in the two cities worse.
“He could wear one, too,” he said.
During Tuesday’s presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump defended his events and claimed that there has been “no negative effect” from his rallies. Recall, however, that health officials in Tulsa said a spike in COVID-19 cases there was “likely” sparked by an indoor Trump gathering in June. Saturday’s Wisconsin events both will be outdoor airport gatherings.
The president also said he was “okay with masks” but falsely claimed that scientists are divided over their value. Health experts have said mask-wearing, hand-washing, social distancing and being careful about crowds currently make up the best defense against the virus.
Biden, by contrast, said Trump has been “totally irresponsible” in the way he has handled social distancing and masks, and in holding large rallies.