Reynolds encourages Iowans to attend Trump rally in Des Moines amid surge in community spread of COVID-19

Gov. Kim Reynolds and President Trump gathered in Council Bluffs on June 11, 2019 for Trump’s signing of an Executive Order making changes to the E15 ethanol rule. — Shealah Craighead/Official White House photo

On the same day Iowa surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Gov. Kim Reynolds encouraged people to attend a rally being held by President Trump in Des Moines on Wednesday.

“Protect Iowa’s future, and show your support for President Trump!” Reynolds tweeted from the account she uses for campaign-related items on Monday, just hours after the Iowa Department of Public Health’s data showed the state’s total number COVID-19 cases hitting six digits.

Other Trump rallies this year have been linked to increases in community spread of COVID-19, as the president deliberately distorts facts about the virus, downplays the threat posed by it, discourages the use of masks by his supporters and fails to enforce social distancing at his events. Even at the White House reception on Sept. 26 for Supreme Court nominee Amy Comey Barrett, so few precautions were taken that enough people became infected for Dr. Anthony Fauci to label it a “superspreader event.”

“Absolutely I’m worried about the spread,” Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie told the Des Moines Register. “We don’t want a super-spread event here in Des Moines. We urge everyone who would attend this event to wear a mask and social distance as best they can, and to stay safe and healthy.”

The rally is being held on the tarmac of an area reserved for cargo planes at the Des Moines International Airport. The outdoor setting is one of the reasons Gov. Reynolds feels comfortable attending the event, according to a spokesperson for the governor.

“Gov. Reynolds looks forward to attending Wednesday’s rally that is taking place outside,” the spokesperson said. “She will continue to take precautions and is encouraging those attending to adhere to public health steps the campaign is taking, such as temperature checks, and the use of hand sanitizer and masks.”

Lawyers for the Trump campaign appear to be less confident than the governor. In order to attend the event, a person must agree to a waiver stating they “voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19,” and absolve “Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; the host venue; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers from any and all liability under any theory, whether in negligence or otherwise, for any illness or injury.”

A supporter waves a Gadsden flag during President Trump’s rally at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. Wednesday, June 21, 2017. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The surge of new cases in Iowa driven by community spread, especially in rural areas, continued on Tuesday, with IDPH reporting 580 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. Among those newly reported cases were 27 residents of Johnson County and 25 residents of Linn County.

As of 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 100,632 Iowans had tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus was first detected in the state on March 8.

IDPH also reported 17 more deaths from the virus during the 24 hours between 10 a.m. on Monday and 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Among those deceased was a resident of Johnson County. The deaths brought the total number of Iowans the department has verified as dying from COVID-19 to 1,481.

The state hit a new record high in the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals on Tuesday. At 10 a.m., IDPH reported 463 patients hospitalized, an increase of 14 patients since the same time on Monday.

Ahead of Wednesday’s rally in Des Moines, President Trump held a packed campaign event in Florida Monday night, where masks were reportedly few and far between. Trump himself did not wear a mask as he spoke over the crowd, despite being hospitalized for COVID-19 just a week prior, and discussed an intention to “kiss everyone in that audience.”

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