US President Donald Trump is set to defy medical advice and carry on with a planned rally, as his opponents say he is trying desperately to “wish” the virus away.
Thousands are expected to turn out at President Trump’s rally in Wisconsin on Saturday (US time) – despite the state posting a record 3861 positive cases on Friday.
Infectious disease specialist Michael Landrum laid out just how severe the situation is in the mid-west state, in an interview with CNN: “We’re seeing an unprecedented number of cases in the community. Rates [are] now approximately three to four times what they were during the course of the summer.”
“It’s really spreading quite quickly … A large gathering is just not recommended at this time,” Wisconsin infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Landrum says as Covid-19 cases surge in the state and President Trump is set to hold a rally there today. https://t.co/ubsAKVzIvm pic.twitter.com/iKtqbXbpnB
— CNN (@CNN) October 17, 2020
“And it’s spreading quite quickly,” Dr Landrum continued.
“So we’re telling people they shouldn’t be having any kind of indoor or outdoor gatherings with people, outside of the people that they actually live with at home.”
Dr Landrum said the situation was so severe that even “small interactions”, let alone large gatherings, were a danger.
Mr Trump was just 24 hours earlier at another rally in Macon, Georgia, as he continues his political campaign, having just recovered from the virus himself.
GIANT RED WAVE COMING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2020
His opponent Joe Biden said Wisconsin was grappling with one of the worst outbreaks in the country – but you wouldn’t know it from the president’s behaviour.
President Trump is knowingly downplaying the severity of the virus. At virtually every turn, he has panicked and tried to wish it away, rather than doing the hard work to get it under control,” Mr Biden said.
Mr Trump has refused to let up his arduous campaigning, even in the face of spiking virus numbers throughout the US.
— Dan Scavino🇺🇸🦅 (@DanScavino) October 17, 2020
‘Crazy’ record voting
More than 22 million Americans have already cast ballots in the 2020 election, a record-shattering avalanche of early votes driven by Democratic enthusiasm and a pandemic that has transformed the way the nation votes.
The 22.2 million ballots submitted as of Friday night represents 16 per cent of all votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, even as eight states are not yet reporting their totals and voters still have more than two weeks to cast ballots.
Americans’ rush to vote is leading election experts to predict a record 150 million votes may be cast and turn-out rates could be higher than in any presidential election since 1908.
“It’s crazy,” Michael McDonald said, a University of Florida political scientist who has long tracked voting for his site ElectProject.org.
His analysis shows roughly 10 times as many people have voted compared with this point in 2016.
“We can be certain this will be a high-turn-out election,” Mr McDonald said.
So far the turn-out has been lopsided, with Democrats out-voting Republicans by a 2-1 ratio in the 42 states included in The Associated Press count.