Trump holds rally despite surge in Covid-19 infections
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Saturday told supporters at an election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma that he had ordered officials to slow down testing for Covid-19 as it led to more cases.
“You know testing is a double edged sword,” Trump said,. “When you do testing to that extent you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down.”
His remarks came as Covid-19 cases in the US rose the most in three weeks as infections topped 30,000 for a second straight day on Sunday, adding to concern about a resurgence. Tulsa county, where Trump held the rally, on Sunday reported a record high of 143 cases in the last 24 hours.
The campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden slammed Trump’s admission on testing as an “an outrageous moment” that showed he “is putting politics ahead of the safety and economic well-being of the American people”.
Trump unleashed months of pent-up grievances about the coronavirus, which he dubbed the “Kung flu,” a racist term referring to its origins in China. He also tried to defend his handling of the pandemic.
But his intended show of political force featured thousands of empty seats and six new coronavirus cases on his own campaign staff, hours before the rally began.
Based on an estimated 1 million RSVPs, the campaign had planned an indoor rally and one outdoors for the spillover crowd. No one showed up for the outdoor event.
Evidently surprised and embarrassed the campaign sought to blame protestors and media for the low turnout.
“Radical protestors, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media, attempted to frighten off the President’s supporters. We are proud of the thousands who stuck it out,” Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman, said.
There were sporadic incidents of clashes between Trump supporters and protestors, but not as widespread or of a scale as portrayed by the Trump campaign.
Police used pepper balls in once instance, Tulsaworld, a local news publication, reported. One protester was arrested, but he was demonstrating peacefully.
In a speech lasting almost two hours, the president slammed Biden seeking to tie him to the antiracism protests that have ripped through the country over the past weeks, marked by violence, looting and clashes with law enforcements forces.
On Sunday, White House official Peter Navarro said the Trump administration was preparing for a second wave of Covid-19 . “We are filling the stockpile in anticipation of a possible problem in the fall,” he told CNN.
US President Donald Trump addresses the Tulsa rally.