Trump says it’s safe to hold rallies amid coronavirus outbreak
President Trump said Monday that he believed it was safe to continue holding campaign rallies across the country during the coronavirus outbreak.
“I think it’s very safe,” Trump told reporters when asked whether he believed holding rallies was safe during an Oval Office meeting with Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez on Monday morning.
Trump, who is scheduled to headline a rally in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday evening, also told reporters they should ask the same question of Democrats running for president.
“Well this was set up a long time ago and others are,” Trump said, referring to the North Carolina rally. “You could ask that to the Democrats because they’re having a lot of rallies.”
The coronavirus outbreak has led a number of countries in Europe and Asia to take measures to mitigate the spread; Switzerland, for instance, has banned events of over 1,000 and Japan has implemented a country-wide school closure.
The United States currently has far fewer cases of the virus than other countries, but the developments overseas coupled with the expectation for further cases in the U.S. have raised questions about whether similar steps could be taken to lessen the spread domestically.
Such steps could have an impact on the presidential campaign trail, if local officials decide to limit so-called “mass gatherings” like concerts or political rallies, health experts say.
It’s possible Americans who would otherwise attend campaign rallies or events like those held by Trump and other candidates could also choose to stay home in order to limit their interactions with other people in an effort to avoid catching the virus, thereby reducing attendance at political events.
New York reported its first case of the coronavirus late Sunday, bringing the total cases in the U.S. to about 90. The virus has reached at least 12 states.
Trump has sought to ease concerns about the virus, saying Saturday that more cases were likely but that there was “no reason to panic.”
“Additional cases in the United States are likely, but healthy individuals should be able to fully recover,” Trump told reporters after acknowledging the first U.S. death as a result of the virus.
The Trump administration also announced additional travel restrictions on Iran and screening of travelers from Italy and South Korea as part of the ongoing effort to address the virus on Saturday.