Wisconsin, Besieged by a Pandemic, Will See Another Risky Trump Rally This Weekend



By Jessica VanEgeren

October 22, 2020

Waukesha is already safe GOP turf, but the president is coming Saturday night.

President Donald Trump is again coming to campaign in Wisconsin at a time when a record number of Wisconsinites are being exposed to and dying from the coronavirus. 

A week after his campaign rally in Janesville, Trump will be back in Wisconsin to hold a rally in Waukesha, a Republican friendly suburb of Milwaukee. 

With two more deaths reported Thursday, Waukesha County has lost 110 people to COVID-19 and 11,116 of its residents have been infected by the coronavirus, according to the state Department of Health Services which noted another 22 deaths and 3,413 new infections statewide.

Based on daily figures from the Wisconsin Hospital Association, healthcare workers are again seeing a record number of COVID-19 hospital patients (1,230), a record number of them in intensive care (328), a record number of total Wisconsin patients on ventilators (469), and the 150 deaths since Friday is the most of any seven-day period since the pandemic started.

As with his trip to Janesville, Trump’s return to Wisconsin comes as the state is unsuccessfully controlling the spread of the coronavirus and health and government officials continue to urge residents to wear masks, social distance, and avoid large gatherings.

Roughly 3,000 people attended Trump’s Janesville rally, many not wearing masks and many taking their cue from a president who has spread misinformation about the effectiveness of masks.

“COVID-19 is everywhere in our state and it is still spreading,” said Andrea Palm, secretary-designee of the state Department of Health Services. “Gatherings of any size are not safe.” 

On Thursday, DHS noted the most recent deaths bring the total number of Wisconsin lives lost to 1,703. 

Cases have been climbing over the past several months. The seven-day average for new cases is now 3,396 per day. One month ago it was 1,838, and two months ago it was 707 new cases per day. 

Most worrisome for healthcare providers and officials working to flatten the curve is Trump’s repeated rhetoric that the country is ”rounding the curve.”

His claim of immunity since contracting COVID-19 earlier this month, 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. 

“To those who say this pandemic has been blown out of proportion or there isn’t a real risk: Folks, that’s flat out wrong,” said Gov. Tony Evers Thursday. 

Hospitals in Wisconsin continue to be at or near capacity and healthcare systems are struggling to keep their workforce healthy. 

Officials with Aspirus Hospital System said Thursday that more than 200 of its employees systemwide are showing symptoms of the virus and are suspected to have it. Earlier this month, Chris Woleske, Bellin Health’s chief executive officer, said the healthcare system was hiring travel nurses, something it had not done during her 20 years with the company. 

The strain on healthcare staff and the ongoing surge in cases prompted healthcare officials and lawmakers to urge Trump on Monday to stop holding super-spreader events

“Consciously or unconsciously they are attending [the rallies] to prove the president is right,” said Dr. Howard Forman of Yale Medical School.


CATEGORIES: Coronavirus | Elections


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