Trump holds campaign rally indoors despite coronavirus concerns

People in the crowd were seated close together and many did not wear masks. (File/AFP)
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Updated 30 September 2020

Trump holds campaign rally indoors despite coronavirus concerns

  • Trump played down the virus in its early stages and has alternately embraced and disregarded advice from public health experts
  • Trump has knocked Biden for doing fewer events and traveling less than he in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election

HENDERSON, Nevada: President Donald Trump held a Nevada campaign rally at an indoor venue on Sunday despite public health professionals’ warnings against large indoor gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, a Republican, railed against his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, suggesting he was taking drugs and was soft on crime.
“Biden wants to appease domestic terrorists and my plan is to arrest domestic terrorists,” Trump said to an enthusiastic crowd. “If Biden wins, the mob wins.”
People in the crowd were seated close together and many did not wear masks.
Biden has criticized Trump for holding campaign events that put people at risk of contracting the coronavirus, which has killed more than 194,000 people in the United States.
Trump played down the virus in its early stages and has alternately embraced and disregarded advice from public health experts, who encourage mask-wearing and maintaining social distance to prevent its spread.
The president’s campaign portrayed the rally at a large warehouse in Henderson as an opportunity for supporters to exercise their rights to peaceful assembly under the US Constitution’s First Amendment.
“If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the First Amendment to hear from the president of the United States,” spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.
Participants were to have temperatures taken before entry and be given a mask they would be encouraged to wear, the campaign said.
“I think we’re relatively safe here. I brought a mask but I haven’t felt the need to wear it,” said Ronda Livingston, 64. “I’m not worried about it.”
Trump, who is trailing Biden in national polls and in Nevada, has stepped up the frequency of his rallies in recent weeks, but has held most of them at outdoor venues or in large open airplane hangars to help minimize risk.
Biden has criticized Trump sharply for his response to the virus and promised a comprehensive strategy to fight the pandemic if he succeeds Trump in the White House.
Trump is in the middle of a western swing that will include a campaign stop in Arizona and a visit to California on Monday to be briefed about the wildfires devastating the west coast.
Trump has knocked Biden for doing fewer events and traveling less than he in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election.


WHO warns ‘too early to ease up’ from COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe

Updated 18 min 55 sec ago

WHO warns ‘too early to ease up’ from COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe

  • ‘We need to be patient, it will take time to vaccinate’
  • ‘Pushing transmission down requires a sustained, consistent effort’

GENEVA: The World Health Organization’s European director Hans Kluge said on Thursday COVID-19 transmission rates in Europe remained too high, putting health services under severe strain, and therefore it was “too early to ease up.”
“We need to be patient, it will take time to vaccinate,” he told an online briefing. “We have learned harsh lessons — opening and closing, and reopening (societies) rapidly is a poor strategy” in seeking to curb coronavirus contagion, he said.
“Transmission rates across Europe are still very high, impacting health systems and straining services, making it too early to ease up,” Kluge said. “Pushing transmission down requires a sustained, consistent effort. Bear in mind that just over 3 percent of people in the region have had a confirmed COVID-19 infection. Areas hit badly once can be hit again.”
Kluge said a total of 35 countries in Europe had launched vaccination programs with 25 million does administered so far.
“These vaccines have shown the efficacy and safety we all hoped they would...This monumental undertaking will release pressure on our health systems and undoubtedly save lives.”
He said continued high rates of transmission and emerging variants of the virus made it urgent to vaccinate priority groups, but said the rate of vaccine production and distribution was not yet meeting expectations.
“This paradox, where communities sense an end is in sight with the vaccine but, at the same time, are called to adhere to restrictive measures in the face of a new threat, is causing tension, angst, fatigue, and confusion. This is completely understandable in these circumstances.”