Covid-19 concerns are front and centre at Trump’s Phoenix rally as hospitalisations surge
- US President Donald Trump's rally in Phoenix is causing concern among doctors and local officials amid a spike in coronavirus cases across Arizona.
- "As Donald Trump stands on stage in front of thousands of young people packed together without masks, he claims 'the plague has gone away," Anna Starling, a neurologist in Phoenix, told Business Insider. "But physicians and Arizonans know the Covid-19 pandemic is real and it's still here."
- "In fact," Starling said, "we are actively surging in AZ with record-breaking cases and increasing hospitalisations and deaths."
- While insisting that the local mask ordinance will be enforced, a spokesperson for Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told Business Insider that the focus is on "education."
- For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.
Amid a surge in cases of Covid-19, it is now required to wear a mask in the city of Phoenix. But police will not be focused on issuing citations for a failure to do so at Tuesday's "Students for Trump" rally with the US president, according to Mayor Kate Gallego.
That it's taking place at all concerns medical professionals.
Just hours before Trump was set to arrive, Arizona hit two new records: one for new coronavirus infections, and another for the number of people hospitalised after being infected, as the Arizona Republic reported.
"As Donald Trump stands on stage in front of thousands of young people packed together without masks, he claims 'the plague has gone away," Anna Starling, a neurologist in Phoenix, told Business Insider. "But physicians and Arizonans know the Covid-19 pandemic is real and it's still here. In fact, we are actively surging in AZ with record-breaking cases and increasing hospitalisations and deaths."
Over 2,900 medical professionals in Arizona signed a June 15 letter to Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, urging him to mandate face coverings across the state. Ducey, who will be attending the rally, has declined - but last week did allow local governments to pass measures requiring them.
In an interview last week with Business Insider's Kayla Epstein, Mayor Gallego, a Democrat, expressed concern about Trump's rally. "I would ask that the White House Coronavirus Task Force take a look at the public health situation in Arizona and decide whether it is appropriate," she said. "We do know that indoor events with large crowds in close proximity are among those most likely to spread the virus."
On Monday, Gallego issued a statement saying that she does "not believe an event of this magnitude can be held safely, particularly as Arizona sees rising Covid cases." Still, while there is an ordinance requiring the wearing of masks, Gallego said the focus will be "not to hand out citations but to educate the public on the virus and its transmission."
Annie DeGraw, a spokesperson for the mayor, insisted that does not mean the ordinance will not be acknowledged.
"Mask wearing is being enforced," she told Business Insider on Tuesday, noting that police will be at the rally "handing out education info."
Over the weekend, Phoenix police received 18 calls about people failing to wear masks, according to the Arizona Republic, but issued no citations.
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