A Trump rally in Minnesota probably helped spread coronavirus, a state health official said.
Nine people who attended the rally in Bemidji, MN on Sept. 18 have tested positive for the disease and two were hospitalized, Doug Schultz, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Health, told VICE News on Friday. One attendee is in intensive care.
The news comes just as President Trump plans a return to live events in an attempt to buttress his troubled campaign. Trump’s rallies were curtailed by an outbreak of the disease inside the White House that left Trump hospitalized with COVID last weekend. Trump now plans to host an outdoor event at the White House this Saturday and a rally in Florida on Monday.
Public health officials have blasted the Trump administration for flouting basic safety precautions, including masks and social distancing. And now, Minnesota health officials are eyeing one of Trump’s most recent rallies as a likely driver of the disease.
One person was known to have been infectious at the rally, Schultz said. Two people who attended a protest against the Trump rally in Bemidji also later tested positive for COVID, he said.
“Since September 1, there have been 278 cases among Beltrami County residents,” Schultz told VICE News. Of those cases, “43% of cases occurred 2-10 days after the political rally held on September 18th or a wedding held on the 19th.”
Both the Trump rally and the wedding seem to have helped spread the disease, Schultz said. Fifteen cases have been associated with the wedding, he said.
“These events appear, based on case characteristics, to be likely drivers of increases in COVID-19 cases in Beltrami County,” Schultz wrote.
There have been no deaths associated with the rally so far, Schultz said.