Opinion: Trump’s risky rallies are straight out of ‘Hunger Games’

Dean Obeidallah
Add to that, Nevada’s official statistics show that the state currently has a disturbing Covid-19 test positivity rate of 9.5%, with cases growing at a rate of 0.4% — 299 new cases per day — for the most recent seven-day period recorded by Nevada Health Response. (New York, by contrast, has now gone more than a month with a positivity rate of less than 1%.) The World Health Organization has advised states not to re-open until the positivity rate is at 5% or lower for 14 days.
But none of that apparently matters to Trump — as long as he gets the optics of a large crowd that he believes looks good for his 2020 campaign. That helps explains why after the rally, Trump tweeted photos from the event that featured people not wearing masks crammed together. Trump even shared a video clip of his fans running from a gated area to the front of the stage that looked like the start of a Covid-themed game show. I was expecting to hear Trump entice his supporters by yelling out, “First 25 to the stage get a month’s supply of hydroxychloroquine!”
At the rally, Trump lied to his supporters that the reason it was being held in the town of Minden and not at the Reno airport, where it was originally scheduled, was because the Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, “tried to stop us.”
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“We didn’t,” tweeted Meghin Delaney, Sisolak’s press secretary. In reality, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that it was actually Reno airport officials who prevented the rally there, citing the 50-person restriction on crowd gatherings.
Earlier in the week, Trump held a rally in North Carolina that again ignored statewide social distancing mandates of limiting gatherings to 50 people and wearing masks. These measures are in place for one reason: To save lives from a deadly pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 193,000 Americans since March. In the last week alone, with deaths averaging 850 a day, hundreds more Americans died from Covid-19 than during the attacks on 9/11.
Sure, the Trump campaign does tell the media, “Every attendee will get a temperature check prior to admission, be provided a mask they’re encouraged to wear, and have access to plenty of hand sanitizers.” But photos show masks are not being worn. If Trump really wanted to ensure the safety of his supporters rather than feed his ego, he could simply tell them at the rally to put on their masks and keep a safe distance from each other. Trump is not bashful when it comes to sharing his views on issues that he’s passionate about.
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Trump is not just exposing his supporters at the rally to the virus. He’s also sending an alarming message to the nation that social distancing mandates can be ignored. This is beyond irresponsible, it borders on sinister given that Trump fully understands how easily transmittable and fatal this virus could be. We now know that as early as February 7 Trump told Washington Post reporter Woodward, in a phone call made public last week, that Covid-19 was highly contagious since it could be transmitted in the air and that it was five times “more deadly” than the flu.
Add to that, Trump must be aware that after his Tulsa campaign rally in late June, there was a spike in Covid-19 cases in the Tulsa area that local health officials believed was linked to his event. Indeed, it was at this very rally former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain was seen not wearing a mask. Cain was diagnosed with Covid-19 not long after and died from the virus weeks later. While it’s unclear if Cain contracted the virus at the Trump rally, it still should raise alarm bells for Trump over that possibility.
The bottom line is this: Trump will always do what is best for Trump. In this case it means holding large campaign rallies that violate Covid-19 safety measures simply because Trump believes that could help him win reelection — even if it means more of his supporters are exposed to a virus that he knows is “deadly stuff.”
If Trump isn’t concerned with whether his supporters get Covid-19, why would anyone believe he cares about the 51% of Americans who don’t support him getting sick? Or even dying.