Saturday, October 24, 2020

Trump's Waukesha Rally Will Probably Become A "Superspreader" Event

ON SATURDAY NIGHT, President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was an event that brought out his most ardent supporters in one of the reddest parts of the state.

Naturally, even though coronavirus continues to rage on in the U.S. (and in Wisconsin in particular), the event was a mostly maskless affair. As freelance reporter Ethan Duran noted, hundreds of individuals were packed in tight at the event without donning any protective covering whatsoever.

Not everyone was maskless, however, because the Trump campaign has determined it doesn't do them any good to actually SHOW people not wearing masks. So, as has become their modus operandi as of late, people who were on the stage behind Trump were wearing masks — you know, so that the cameras could show he takes this pandemic seriously.

Of course, Trump doesn't take any of this seriously, as was evident during his speech. At one point, he told revelers standing before him that the virus is "going away" and that it's "rounding around the turn."

That's not even true within his own administration. As he was speaking in Waukesha on Saturday, it was announced that Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short, as well as another aide in the VP's office, had tested positive for COVID-19.

Some have observed the way that coronavirus has traversed through Trump's White House staff, and have described it as being akin to a "superspreader" event on its own. Which begs the question: will his event in Waukesha put people at risk, too?

Undoubtedly it will. Waukesha itself, known for being stubborn in the early months of the crisis by staging protests against the state's stay-at-home order, is already a hotbed of coronavirus activity. That will continue, if not get worse, because of Trump's presence this weekend.

Thanks, Donald.

We know this will be true with near certainty, because we've already seen what happens when Trump visits Wisconsin during the pandemic — the virus spreads, and rates of death increase

Trump held a rally on September 17 in Mosinee, Wisconsin. On that date, the percentage of all tests ever taken that came back positive for coronavirus in Marathon County was at 4.94 percent. Two weeks later, at the start of October, the rate increased to 7.70 percent.

The positivity rate has, sadly, continued to grow since that time, sitting at 13.43 percent as of this past Friday.

The number of deaths in Marathon County, similarly, has gone up since Trump's visit. When he came to Mosinee, there were 14 deaths recorded from coronavirus. Now, 39 individuals have died from the virus.

That number may sound minuscule to some, but one has to remember: Marathon County is sparsely populated compared to other areas of the state. If you extrapolated that county's population to the size of the city of Madison, those 25 recorded deaths over the past 37 days would equal 47 deaths. And if you compared Marathon County's death rate during those two weeks to the U.S. population overall, it'd be equivalent to seeing more than 60,000 deaths over that time period.

The U.S. saw about 27,000 COVID-19 deaths from September 17 to October 23 — a terrifying number, to be sure, but much smaller than what Marathon County experienced in a per capita comparison.

Are these numbers out of Marathon County all attributable to Trump's campaign rally? It's hard to say for sure. But he certainly played a role in getting people to come out to that event, to (mostly) not wear their masks during it, and continue to believe well after that rally in Mosinee that social distancing and facial coverings were unimportant. 

The president is, at a minimum, mainly to blame for encouraging dangerous beliefs about coronavirus, including in Wisconsin. Beyond that, he may also be to blame for the recent uptick in the spread of the virus here due to hosting campaign events in the state.

It's not a hard guess to make to say that Waukesha County will likely see similar spikes in the next few weeks. 

Featured image credit: image of Trump, via Gage/Skidmore/Flickr; image of COVID-19, via public domain.

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