Trump continues to ignore pandemic during trip to hotspot of Florida



The trip, which includes a multimillion-dollar fundraiser and meetings, comes amid Trump’s larger push to get the US back into gear amid the pandemic. The President has been determined to project an image of normalcy, even as he heads into what’s been widely referred to as the new epicenter of the virus and the rest of the America is being discouraged from traveling, told to socially distance and encouraged to wear a mask.

The President’s first stop on Friday will be a visit Doral, Florida, to take part in a meeting with US Southern Command. The meeting will take place in Miami-Dade County, which has seen a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases this week and continues to be pressed for resources.

A presidential visit — no matter who is in office — requires a significant amount of resources, with White House officials, White House Medical Unit representatives and US Secret Service agents traveling in advance of the president to coordinate with local officials on the ground. There is an extensive amount of medical preparation involved each time a president travels, with plans in place for the worst-case scenario.

After visiting Southern Command, the President will participate in a roundtable on “Supporting the People of Venezuela,” according to the White House public schedule. Like other White House events in recent weeks, this roundtable will take place at a church, and it’s not clear if patrons will socially distance. During similar events at churches held by the White House amid the pandemic, efforts to socially distance audience members had been mixed.

The President will round off his trip by participating in closed-door fundraiser — one of many events Trump and past presidents have used to secure support from high-dollar donors. But it comes after supporters slated to attend a fundraiser with the vice president just yesterday tested positive for the coronavirus and were asked to leave before he arrived.

Trump’s public appearances within the White House this week also appeared to be part of efforts to return to normal amid the pandemic, focusing on returning children back to school amidst the pandemic, signing a major trade deal, and enhancing “Hispanic prosperity.”

While meeting with the President of Mexico to sign the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, Trump touted the US’ decision to send ventilators to Mexico for “saving a lot of lives.” But he made no mention of the fact that this week, Mexican coronavirus cases and deaths have nearly tripled after the government reopened certain sectors of the economy.
During events at the White House to push getting children back to school this fall, Trump said he would pressure governors to reopen academic institutions, claiming they want to keep them closed for political reasons, not over concerns about spreading the virus.

And during a roundtable and Rose Garden ceremony to establish the “Hispanic Prosperity Initiative” on Thursday, mentions of the coronavirus’ impact on Latinos was infrequent. One roundtable participant called the coronavirus’ impact on the economy a “blip.”

During an executive order signing, Trump touted his administration’s efforts on the coronavirus, but never mentioned its health impacts on the Hispanic community.

Recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Hispanics and Blacks are suffering from coronavirus infections at rates far beyond their share of the population. And CDC data obtained by The New York Times show that Blacks and Latinos are three times as likely to become infected with the virus as their white neighbors.

At the White House events focused on Hispanics on Thursday, there was also no mention of the recent surge of coronavirus cases and deaths in states across the sunbelt, which have some of the largest Latino populations in the country.

However, there are some signs that the President, the White House and his campaign are trying to adjust to the new realities of coronavirus.

Trump, who has been reluctant to wear a mask in setting where social distancing is not possible, said he plans to wear a mask while visiting Walter Reed National Medical Center on Saturday.

“You’re in a hospital setting, I think it’s a very appropriate thing,” the President said on Thursday. “I have no problem with a mask.”

Trump explained that “if I’m with soldiers, people that — you know, I don’t want to spread anything.”

And the campaign is planning to make changes to its upcoming rally in New Hampshire, his second since the pandemic began.

The rally was scheduled to take place this weekend, but White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday that it had been pushed back because of an incoming storm.

Tulsa, where the first campaign event took place in June, is now seeing a rise in coronavirus cases. Local health officials have suggested the rise was tied to a series of large events in the city, including the rally.
Unlike the first rally in Oklahoma, which fell below attendance expectations and was held indoors with little social distancing, the New Hampshire event is expected to be held in an airplane hangar. And while the campaign said in Tulsa that masks were voluntary, this time the campaign plans to ask rally goers to wear masks and encourage social distancing.

CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.



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