As Iowa surpassed 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases Monday and remained the fourth-highest state for rate of infection, the mayor of Des Moines expressed concern that President Donald Trump’s rally Wednesday at the city’s airport could become a “superspreader” event.
The state averaged 1,300 new cases per day over the past four days, and during that time there were an additional 46 deaths. As of Monday morning, Iowa had reported 100,052 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,464 deaths from the disease since the pandemic started.
The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Iowa has risen over the past two weeks, from 16.39% on Sept. 27 to 18.44% on Oct. 11, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. That rate places Iowa fourth behind Idaho, South Dakota and Wisconsin.Polls show a tight race between Democrat Joe Biden and Trump plans a Wednesday rally at the Iowa Air National Guard hangar at the Des Moines International Airport. He is resuming campaigning after having COVID-19.
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie has required face coverings to be worn in public in the city since August, but Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has declined to require masks statewide and has said that such local mandates can’t be enforced.
Cownietold the Des Moines Register on Sunday that he’s worried that Trump’s visit could add to the state’s problems.
Apart from the governor’s stand that the city’s mask order can’t be enforced, the National Guard property at the airport where the rally will take place isn’t under city control, Cownie said.
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith said the state should not be hosting the event.
“In no way, shape or form should Governor Reynolds or any of our Republican leaders allow for this event to happen. Iowans need a President who will put the health and safety of the country above their own ego,” he said in a statement.
Reynolds’ state emergency proclamation allows mass gatherings of more than 10 people but requires organizers to ensure there is at least 6 feet of physical distance between each group or individual. It also requires reasonable measures be taken to reduce the risk of COVID transmission.
A spokesman for Reynolds, who is a supporter of Trump, didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether the proclamation applies to the rally.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the event will be in an airplane hangar with open doors,
“We will have safety protocols in place. All and attendees will be given a temperature check and masks, which they are instructed to wear, and access to hand sanitizer,” he said.
The Facebook invitation to apply for tickets included a statement that said attendees “voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and waive, release and discharge” the Trump campaign from any liability.
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