President Donald Trump offered a glaring new example of his refusal to put medical science before politics with a large indoor rally Sunday night that made a mockery of social distancing, while the pandemic he mismanaged has now claimed more than 194,000 American lives.
The event in Nevada — his second rally in the state in as many days — did not only risk the health of those present, thousands of whom were packed together inside a manufacturing facility in defiance of the state’s ban on local gatherings of 50 people or more. It also has the potential to turn into a super spreader event that could seed Covid-19 outbreaks in the wider community. Trump hadn’t held an indoor rally in nearly three months, since his last one, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after which the city saw a surge in cases and multiple campaign staffers along with Secret Service agents tested positive for the virus.
The jarring scenes of the indoor event clashed with footage from the first weekend of NFL games that went ahead in cavernous empty stadiums, reflecting how almost alone the President, who might be expected to set an example, is responsible for the most dangerous breaches of his own government’s coronavirus recommendations.
While many media decided not to send their crews and correspondents into the rally for their own safety. It’s not unusual for media companies to take steps to shield their employees in war zones abroad, but such precautions are exceedingly rare on home soil.
The same ditching of inconvenient facts to service Trump’s personal whims, political goals and conspiracy theories will likely be highlighted again on Monday when the President visits one of the raging Western wildfires in California, where more than 3 million acres have burned this year and 22 people have died since mid-August. The President insists that the fires are caused by poor forest management. Scientists argue that they have been exacerbated by climate change.