Minnesota mayor to Trump: Keep your superspreader rallies far away from us

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'We follow the state guidelines and we expect the campaign when it's here to do the same thing.'

The mayor of Rochester, Minnesota, joined with the Mayo Clinic to issue Donald Trump a stern warning this week: Don't bring your rally here if you won't abide by state guidelines.

Norton said that they were speaking in unity on behalf of the city of Rochester that "we're on the same page."

"Our message is, 'We follow the state guidelines and we expect the (Trump) campaign when it's here to do the same thing.' We know they've been told that before and haven't followed the guidelines," Norton added.

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The state's health guidelines restrict crowd sizes to no more than 250 people.

The clinic also issued a statement saying that it is in full support of Minnesota's COVID-19 guidelines, noting that they "were put in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public's health."

"Preventive measures such as masking, good hand hygiene and social distancing are essential steps to stop the spread of the virus, protect our communities and our neighbors," the statement continues. "Community members who choose to attend a large event that exceeds recommended guidelines should contact their healthcare provider and be evaluated for possible COVID-19 testing.”

According to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, six Trump campaign events have been held in Minnesota, each one flouting crowd size guidelines and facing no repercussions.

Mayor Norton added that while normally, she would welcome such a high-profile event, 2020 is a whole different story.

"This year … with the pandemic hanging over the world, a gathering and a rally takes on a whole different meaning," she said.

Norton noted that her concern is for residents with large numbers of out-of-towners descending upon Rochester.

"As a person who worries about the residents of the community, for me, the excitement of having a candidate come to town is overshadowed by the concern I have for the residents that live here once that candidate leaves," she added.

As of Wednesday, Minnesota had experienced 21 consecutive days of more than 1,000 new cases a day.

The mayor's concerns are reasonable, given that just this week two individuals tested positive for coronavirus after an airport rally in Gaston County, North Carolina. Contact tracing is reportedly underway there.

Although he did not blame Trump specifically, North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said in a Wednesday press conference that he's concerned about sprawling political events with large numbers of attendees being held in the state.

“I’m really concerned about campaigns that fly in all over the place and come into North Carolina, hold these large events, gathering a lot of people together, also bringing in people from out of state, and then leaving,” he said.

At this point, Trump's superspreader rallies have garnered national attention — and concern.

A report from the Center for American Progress notes that at least 26 cases of coronavirus have been directly linked to attendance at Trump rallies, where attendees are often maskless and in close contact.

Beyond that, about half of the counties where Trump has held rallies — 11 out of the 22 held between June and September — have experienced a large countywide uptick in cases afterward.

But Trump shows no sign of stopping his superspreader events anytime soon.

After an outbreak at the White House and on Capitol Hill after a Rose Garden superspreader event — and his own coronavirus diagnosis on Oct. 1 — Trump resumed hosting rallies with large crowds less than two weeks later.

And Monday night, he hosted a large gathering at the White House to celebrate Barrett's confirmation to the Court with a symbolic swearing-in by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Trump, Barrett, Thomas, and first lady Melania Trump were all maskless.

And Trump is currently planning three more rallies in the state of Pennsylvania despite 75 doctors asking him to stop.

In the wake of the mayor's warning, the Rochester, Minnesota, rally, originally slated to be hosted at the Rochester International Airport, was moved to a private steel company about 30 minutes away, where the company's owner told staff he expected 25,000 attendees.

But in the later hours of Thursday, Minnesota GOP Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan told MPR News that the rally had been moved back to the airport, changed to an invitation-only event that would be capped at 250 people.

According to the outlet, Norton confirmed Thursday evening that the Trump campaign had agreed to sign a contract with the city of Rochester stipulating the 250-person cap.

But, MPR said, Carnahan sees it as a violation of Republicans' civil liberties, saying Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and DFL Gov. Tim Walz are "playing games" with the Trump campaign and "denying people's free right to go hear from their president four days from the election."

"We do not live in a world run by tyrannical power leaders," Carnahan said.

By contrast, Democratic nominee Joe Biden will be hosting a socially distanced drive-in campaign event in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Friday.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.