Trump moves Wisconsin rally amid concerns from local officials

The Trump campaign has moved one of two Wisconsin rallies planned for Saturday amid pushback from local officials who raised concerns about public health risks.

The campaign has relocated a rally to Janesville from La Crosse, an official said, citing an issue with the venue in the first location. President Trump is still expected to speak in Green Bay later Saturday.

The official disputed that the change was related to the coronavirus pandemic, but the shift comes in the face of pressure from local leaders.

“I am concerned. Any time you’re going to have that large of an event, and based on what I’ve witnessed with other rallies by the president, the expectation is going to be no social distancing and very few people wearing masks,” Mayor Tim Kabat told The La Crosse Tribune. “So the last thing we need is another spike in cases, we’re already in that severe or high risk, and we don’t need anymore.”

Gov. Tony Evers (D) had urged Trump to either cancel his rallies or require the use of masks in the crowd.

The state said La Crosse County was seeing “very high” COVID-19 activity. Meanwhile, Trump will also speak in Green Bay, where the mayor has also expressed concerns that a rally could seed new COVID-19 cases.

Amaad Rivera-Wagner, the community Liaison for the Green Bay mayor’s office, said the Trump campaign had not reached out to the city about the rally.  The event is taking place at an airport owned by Brown County.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany earlier Tuesday brushed aside concerns about the president holding a rally in areas where his own administration has warned of COVID-19 spread and accused the media of ignoring when Democrats violate social distancing guidelines.

“The president believes that people have a first amendment right to political speech,” she said. “He is having a rally. People can choose whether or not to come.”

Trump has pressed on holding large campaign rallies even as many states see increases in COVID-19 cases and positivity rates, including Wisconsin. The rallies typically draw hundreds of people who pack closely together, while few of them wear masks.

The rallies are generally held outdoors, where experts say the risk of transmission is lower, though this summer Trump held one Nevada rally indoors, violating the state’s limit on large gatherings.

The United States has reported more than 7 million COVID-19 cases and more than 200,000 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. Both are the most of any country in the world.

Updated at 4:54 p.m.

Tags 2020 2020 campaign 2020 election Coronavirus Donald Trump Janesville Tony Evers Trump rallies Wisconsin
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