Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated insistence that COVID-19 is largely a blue state problem, cases are surging in red states just five weeks before the election.
Twenty-two states are currently seeing increases in cases, including in the Midwest, the Great Plains and some in the South. The biggest spikes in new cases have been in North and South Dakota (scene of the massive Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August), Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma and Iowa— all of which voted for Trump in 2016. Among those states, Trump is particularly vulnerable in Iowa and Wisconsin.
Cases nationwide, which have generally been down from July, are now again ticking upward.
The country tallied a troubling 55,000 in a single day Friday — the biggest jump in 24 hours in more than a month.
The Wisconsin Health Department reported 2,817 new cases Saturday — its highest daily total since the pandemic began. South Dakota also experienced its highest daily total — 579 new cases — since the pandemic began.
Critics have slammed Trump for turning the battle against the coronavirus into a partisan issue, and argue that there should be a national mobilization against a disease that has already killed more than 204,000 Americans.
Trump insisted in a press conference earlier this month that the U.S. COVID death toll is “very low … if you take the blue states out” — without offering any evidence.
“The blue states had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at,” Trump insisted. “We’re really at a very low level, but some of the states — they were blue states, and blue-state management.”
Two of the five states with the highest death tolls (Texas and Florida) are currently controlled by Republicans. In mid-September, deaths were almost evenly divided between red and blue states.
Meanwhile, Trump has been holding jam-packed political rallies throughout election season where very few attendees wear face masks or observe social distancing — ignoring guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf last week slammed Trump for staging two rallies in his state without safety protocols to protect attendees’ health.
“It is gravely concerning that the president would insist on holding this event with blatant disregard for social distancing and masking requirements,” Wolf said in a statement. ”Americans should be very concerned that the president has put headlines and publicity above the health and safety of our families and communities.”
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