Wisconsin’s GOP Political Rallies As White House Hit With COVID-19

Wisconsin was buzzing Thursday with news about Republican rallies for Donald Trump this weekend in the midst of increasing health concerns over COVID-19. Then like so much else that has occured this highly unusual year, events took place so quickly that newspapers were left scrambling to refashion their front page for the final edition.

Over the past months, we have all listened and read as Donald Trump acted in ways regarding COVID-19 that ran counter to an orderly and data-driven approach to combating the virus. The reason we feel strongly about this behavior is because we have 4% of the world’s’ population, but over 20% of the deaths due to the virus. We witnessed, time and again, Trump acting without regard for professional and medically-driven advice about wearing a mask and taking the protective measures doctors strongly advocated.

Therefore the news that Trump and the First Lady have both tested positive for the virus comes not as a surprise as the science has informed us about the ease of contracting the virus. That news also underscored what many state residents were discussing this week about large political rallies and public health. If this White House were smart, however, they would now turn this health story into a much-needed PR effort about the need for appropriate behavior during a pandemic. For starters, wear a mask! The reason for a much-needed pivot in tone and substance is based on their past performance.

During a February 28, 2020, campaign rally in South Carolina Trump likened the Democrats’ criticism of his administration’s response to the new coronavirus outbreak to their efforts to impeach him, saying “this is their new hoax.” During the speech he also downplayed the severity of the outbreak, comparing it to the common flu. A comparison that would be laughable if the consequence had not been so deadly for the nation.

Trump also went after reporters and media outlets who informed the nation about the gravity of the virus and the pandemic. Trump stated news organizations were “doing everything they can to instill fear in people,” while some Democrats were “trying to gain political favor by saying a lot of untruths.” 

Late Thursday the ‘hoax’ and supposed creation of a pandemic frenzy by the press came to a crashing halt for the top couple in the White House. This is just the latest unbelievable event in a year that is now closing in on the final stretch of the presidential campaign.

For Wisconsinites, however, we are able to now breathe a sigh of relief as Trump had planned to bring two political rallies to our state Saturday. For most of Thursday Trump was strongly urged to not visit as our state’s case numbers have risen to troubling levels. In fact, Thursday Wisconsin recorded the highest single-day total thus far during the pandemic.

When it was most clear LaCrosse was not going to allow Trump to rally this weekend his campaign team moved the event to Janesville. But the Rock County Board asked that Trump reconsider holding the rally. At that time there was still a Green Bay rally on the Trump schedule.

It needs noting that state hospitals are filling with COVID patients. In addition, Green Bay and the Fox Valley hold 3 of the 4 top spots according to The New York Times as “metro areas with the greatest number of new cases, relative to their population, in the last two weeks”.

Though there is a powerfully partisan charge in the air around our state I suspect the vast majority of the citizenry wish both members of the First Family a speedy recovery. There is no doubt where I stand on the issues which surround this president but that slips off the radar at a time like this. I suspect that midwestern perspective is the norm from Ashland to Lake Geneva. We have all witnessed too many news stories about how this virus ravages the body, and know too many have felt the power and sadness of this pandemic in their homes and communities. Therefore, from this home to the home of the First Family best thoughts on a recovery are sent.

I do hope this can be a learning moment for the nation on the need for wearing masks, self-distancing , and washing our hands. This virus, as we know, attacks everywhere and can infect anyone.