Trump Campaigns Maskless in Janesville as COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket in Wisconsin



By Jessica VanEgeren

October 18, 2020

Trump campaigns in Wisconsin one day after record-setting day of roughly 4,000 new cases.

A maskless President Donald Trump stood before several thousand supporters in Janesville Saturday night declaring the country is “rounding the corner” in tackling the COVID-10 pandemic despite every indicator across Wisconsin—new cases, hospitalizations, school closings, and deaths—screaming otherwise.

“Excuse me. I’m here,” Trump told the crowd less than two weeks after being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center following his contraction of the coronavirus as part of a White House outbreak that has sickened at least two dozen people.

The president’s statement comes one day after nearly 4,000 Wisconsinites tested positive for the coronavirus, another single-day record as the state continues to earn the dubious title of one of the fasting-spreading areas in the country for the virus.

His campaign rally took place at Rock County’s Southwest Wisconsin Regional Airport. Since the beginning of the month, Rock County’s COVID-19 cases have grown by more than 1,150 to roughly 3,840, according to local health data. The county’s case growth is so intense that 91% and 63% of those tested were positive on Thursday and Friday, respectively. 

Typical of Trump rallies this election season, attendees were not required to wear masks or remain socially distanced from one another. The campaign did check the temperature of everyone and provided Trump-themed face masks for those in attendance. There was no requirement the masks had to be worn.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement prior to Trump’s arrival that “Wisconsin is in the grips of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in this country.”

“Jill and I are praying for the health of those who’ve contracted the virus, and for the families who are mourning the loss of loved ones,” Biden said in the statement. “We have lost far too many lives to this pandemic—and the sad fact is, it didn’t have to be this way.” 

Trump again praised a drug regimen created by Regeneron, saying, “I didn’t feel like myself, I didn’t feel like Superman,” until given the experimental antibiotic by his team of doctors. 

“I’m immune now,” said Trump. “I’ll jump down into the crowd. I’ll kiss those big powerful men down there. I won’t like it, but I’ll do it.”

But his claim of immunity, claims there is a cure, and generally most of his statements on his own experience with COVID-19 and its impact on the country have been ruled inaccurate by fact checkers with the Associated Press. 

The campaign stop was billed as one in which Trump would tout his stance on law enforcement. He briefly touched on the topic, drawing parallels between how he handles officer-involved shootings like the one that took place in Kenosha in August and Democratic officials. 

Both Biden and Trump visited Kenosha in the week following the shooting of Kenosha resident, Jacob Blake. Biden spent time talking with the Blake family. Trump did not

Trump Campaigns Maskless in Janesville as COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket in Wisconsin
Despite President Donald Trump’s impending arrival to Kenosha, the Justice for Jacob Blake Celebration drew the attention of national and international media. Here, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake (red shirt) address the press. (Photo © Andy Manis)

Still, Trump took credit for the peace that eventually returned to the city. He also gave some credit to Gov. Tony Evers for sending the Wisconsin National Guard to Kenosha to assist law enforcement, saying Evers’ decision was “better late than never.”  

Besides the coronavirus, Trump spoke for roughly 90 minutes on a cooler, windy night about policing in America, the economy, and the importance of winning Wisconsin. 

“If we win Wisconsin, we win the whole ballgame,” he said of the state he won by roughly 23,000 voters in 2016. 

Trump said Americans would see significant dips to their 401(k) accounts due to drops to the stock market if Biden is elected. Trump has consistently relied on falsely equating the overall economy to record gains on Wall Street even though a majority of stocks are owned by the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

“This election is between a Trump super recovery and a Biden depression,” he said. 

Trump Campaigns Maskless in Janesville as COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket in Wisconsin
President Donald Trump breaks ground with former Gov. Scott Walker (2nd L), Foxconn CEO Terry Gou (2nd R), former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) and Christopher “Tank” Murdock (L), the first Wisconsin Foxconn employee, at a ceremony for the Foxconn Technology Group computer screen plant on June 28, 2018, in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. Foxconn had committed to build a $10 billion plant in what it has named the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park, and to create 13,000 Wisconsin jobs. That has not yet happened. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

Trump also addressed news of the week that Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese-based electronics manufacturer, will not get any state tax credits in 2020 for its development until it renegotiates its contract with the state for its massive factory project in Racine County. 

The location of the mega factory in Wisconsin came with a historic $4 billion taxpayer-funded subsidy package championed by former GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Trump, who once proclaimed the development the “eighth wonder of the world.” 

Foxconn, however, is not delivering on its end to create 13,000 jobs. Instead, three years in, there are just 281 employees who count toward the contract goals, according to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s audit of the company’s 2019 project report.

Trump blamed the state’s Democratic leadership under Evers for Foxconn’s failure to thrive in Wisconsin. 

“They don’t have any security,” Trump said. “Companies like that will put in more money than they promised. But they’re very concerned. They have to have the right climate.”

However, Foxconn had begun changing and reducing the scope of its Wisconsin plans long before the pandemic.

For his part, Biden continues to link the health of the economy with the physical health of the people of this nation. 

“If you send me to the White House, I’ll be ready to tackle this crisis on day one,” Biden said in a statement. “My administration will trust the science, lead by example, speak the truth to the American people, and help Wisconsin families and small businesses build back better than before.” 

Biden added that because Trump is “knowingly downplaying the severity of the virus,” there are now 150,000 fewer Wisconsin workers employed than when he took office.

“His failed response to the pandemic has crushed Wisconsin’s economy,” Biden said. 

The latest polls have Biden leading Trump by double digits in Wisconsin with the Nov. 3 election less than three weeks away. 




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