With more than 50,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 1,400 deaths, Arizona has become the newest point for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
But inside Dream City Church in Phoenix, where thousands of young conservatives gathered shoulder to shoulder Tuesday afternoon for President Donald Trump’s second in-person demonstration since March, the message from the president and his supporters about the pandemic could not. have been more triumphant. .
“The long and slow surrender is over,” Trump told the crowd of approximately 2,900 followers, most of them college age. “We are going to be stronger than ever, and it will be soon.”
In the two-hour remarks by the president at the “Students for Trump” event and those of the Republican politicians and officials who presented it, and in the mood of those gathered without a mask to see, the threat of the new coronavirus that has He claimed that more than 120,000 American lives were minimized both explicitly and implicitly, when it was even mentioned at all.
“It is the red states that are in the front!” Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) sang, arguing that the pandemic had put Democrats in “totalitarian mode” and that the disastrous reopening of states like Florida had led to “great results.”
“The bias in the media and the great damage they do to the public” is the real threat, argued Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, home to a group of coronavirus outbreaks in meat plants that have infected hundreds of workers. Noem was introduced by Students for Trump co-founder Ryan Fournier as someone who “was not going to trample on freedom” in the name of public health.
Trump avoided mentioning the pandemic almost entirely in his speech, only making references to the state of the nation’s economy “before the plague began.”
“We were doing the best … the best of everything,” Trump said, adding that Democrats are “trying to do everything possible to keep the country closed and closed.”
Otherwise, the pandemic was seen only relative to other political priorities, from immigration to limiting access to mail-in ballots for the November general election. At the end of a long aside about the success of his newly autographed wall along the southern border of the US. For example, Trump noted that the barrier would keep “COVID immigrants” away, or added to the cheers, whatever he wants calls the virus.
“Wuhan. Coronavirus. Flu Kung,” Trump said, repeating his use of a racial slur that White House chief adviser Kellyanne Conway called “highly offensive” in March. “Some people call it the Chinese flu. The Chinese flu “
Later, Trump returned to the pandemic several more times during the speech, once to accuse journalists of using the nation’s record number of infections “to make us look bad,” and again to undermine efforts to expand the vote. by mail in the name of public health, but each time it ended with promises that the crisis was almost over.
“His selfless sacrifice has saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” Trump told the unmasked crowd, vowing that while a coronavirus vaccine would come “very soon,” governors in the affected states “have to open it.” People need it. You know, people also get sick from each other.
But judging by the scarcity of facial masks at the Dream City Church, whose pastors falsely claimed earlier this week that they had installed an air filtration system that kills COVID-19, that era of selfless sacrifice had ended, even when Arizona reported a record 3,591 new cases on Tuesday, its highest in a day to date.
Although the Phoenix City Council ordered a city-wide mask order to take effect immediately, the city’s Democratic mayor announced that he would not enforce the policy during the rally, leaving Trump to encourage his supporters to cover their faces while in a confined space.
“The best spokesperson would be the president,” Mayor Kate Gallego said on CNN on Sunday. “If he told everyone at the rally that it was important to wear masks, I think they would.”
The president, who has expressed personal disgust at the masks recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did no such thing, and only a handful of attendees were seen with any type of facial coverage.
State Democrats, as well as the opponent of Trump’s general election, criticized Trump’s in-person visit to one of the hardest hit states as a public health nightmare.
“No real leader puts a reelection campaign above saving the lives of Americans,” said Arizona Democratic Party chair Felecia Rotellini, who noted that the number of young Arizonans diagnosed with COVID-19 has risen. dramatically shot. “Trump’s visit today is just the latest reminder that he has repeatedly failed Arizonans and our country, creating more crises and unresolved any of the problems he promised to solve.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is currently voting side by side in Arizona against Trump, called Trump’s decision to hold a rally amid a major state-wide outbreak “reckless and irresponsible.”
“This disease is re-emerging in Arizona and families are suffering,” Biden said in comments before Trump’s speech. “Arizonans deserve a president who gets to the moment amid the challenges we face today.”