Amid a sharp increase of coronavirus cases, President Trump played down the severity of the pandemic on Saturday to a crowd of conservative activists gathered at the White House—just nine days after he announced his own infection of the virus, and two weeks after what has been criticized as a “superspreader” White House event.
“It’s going to disappear, it is disappearing,” Trump said to hundreds of supporters of the black conservative “Blexit” movement – founded by controversial political commentator and activist Candace Owens – who gathered on the White House lawn for what was billed as an official event.
Trump once again touted the efficacy of treatments used to treat his own infection, claiming “through the the power of American spirit, more than anything else, science and medicine will eradicate the China Virus once and for all, we’ll get rid of it.”
The comment comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported more than 58,000 new cases of the virus on Friday, the highest single-day count since August, with 926 new deaths.
Despite the rise in cases, Trump slammed the notion of shutting down the country to contain the outbreak and accused Democrats, incorrectly, of wanting to “lock everything down,” telling supporters “we’re not gonna let it happen.”
The rally itself reflected Trump’s view on the virus, with the crowd of supporters – some without masks despite a requirement for them – packed in tightly on the White House lawn.
56%. That’s the share of Americans who disapprove of Trump’s handling of the virus compared to 42% who approve, according to the RealClearPolitics average. 50% of likely voters in a Reuters/Ipsos poll released earlier this week said Biden would be best on coronavirus, while just 38% said Trump would be.
White House spokesperson Judd Deere told reporters the rally was an official event, not a campaign event, to allay concerns about Hatch Act violations. But Trump nonetheless spent copious time taking aim at both Biden and his party, baselessly labeling the Democratic Party platform “beyond socialism” and “communism” and telling rally-goers to “vote these people into oblivion.”
“Good luck. I wouldn’t show up unless you had a mask and were distanced,” Biden said Friday when asked about Trump restarting in-person events. “I just read that the CDC was gonna require masks on public transportation – 40,000 people a day are coming down with coronavirus – and the White House blocked it. What’s the matter with this guy?”
Trump is slated for an in-person rally in Sanford, Florida on Monday – where Trump was supposed to speak last Friday before he tested positive for the virus – with Trump campaign announcing in-person events in Pennsylvania and Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday