Dr. Anthony Fauci warned those going to one of President Donald Trump’s campaign rallies, the upcoming Republican convention or any of the Black Lives Matter protests to wear a mask and try to avoid such large gatherings when possible.
He told ABC News he respects people’s right to participate in the political process but also said the best way of spreading the coronavirus was to avoid congregating in large groups.
The ‘best way that you can avoid — either acquiring or transmitting infection — is to avoid crowded places, to wear a mask whenever you’re outside. And if you can do both, avoid the congregation of people and do the mask, that’s great,’ he told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on the ‘Powerhouse Politics’ podcast.
‘If you’re going to be in a situation where — beyond your control there’s a lot of people around you — make sure you wear a mask,’ he advised.
Dr. Anthony Fauci warned those going to rallies, the GOP convention or the protests to try and avoid large gatherings to help stop spread of COVID-19
Fauci’s advice comes as President Trump prepares to go back on the campaign trail with a rally next week and as Republicans announced they will hold a large ‘celebration’ of his nomination in Jacksonville, Fla, in August
Fauci’s advice comes as the Republican National Committee announced Jacksonville, Florida, would host the ‘celebration’ for Trump’s renomination after the Democratic governor of North Carolina refused to guarantee a large crowd at the Charlotte location out of concerns about the virus.
A large crowd is expected to cheer on the president. The ‘celebration’ will take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds 15,000 people. If filled, social distancing will be impossible.
Jacksonville, Florida, Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican, said he would work with health professionals to ensure everyone’s safety.
But, he added no one knows what the situation with the virus will look like in August, w hen the convention takes place.
‘There will absolutely be COVID-19 safety protocols in place. But as you know, so we’re look two and a half months out the status of COVID-19, the risk of COVID-19, what it will look like in late August will will likely not look like what it does today,’ he said at a press conference on Friday.
Florida is in phase two of its reopening and the state hit a record high number of COVID-19 cases this week.
The Florida Department of Health on Friday reported 1,902 news cases of COVID-19 as well as 29 new deaths. And Thursday saw the second-largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases for the state with 1,698 new cases and 47 new deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also weighed in on Friday, telling reporters that large gatherings that involve shouting, chanting or singing should ‘strongly encourage’ attendees to use cloth masks.
But the officials noted this was not directed specifically at any of President Trump’s events or the protests – it was just general advice.
‘They are not regulations, they are not commands, but they are recommendations or even suggestions … to be able to have a gathering that will keep people as safe as possible,’ said Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for Infectious Diseases.
Besides his upcoming convention, Trump is returning the campaign trail with a rally planned for Friday, June 19, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The president’s campaign has asked rally-goers to agree not to sue the campaign and other entities if they contract COVID-19.
‘By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present,’ a ticketing form on the campaign website read.
It goes on to say that by attending the June 19 rally ‘you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President … liable for any illness or injury.’
By obtaining tickets through the form, rally attendees are also not able to sue the Bank of Oklahoma Center, the venue for the rally, ASM Global, which is the venue’s management company and ‘any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers,’ the disclaimer said.
The Trump campaign has not announced any social distancing plans, though spokesman Tim Murtaugh told DailyMail.com, ‘There will be health precautions.’
President Trump held a roundtable in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday were the audience did not socially distance and many did not wear masks. Texas is also further along in the opening process – and also seeing as spike in coronavirus cases.
Democrats have delayed their convention in Milwaukee to August 17 and have indicated they expect some type of virtual event. No details have been announced yet.
Fauci’s advice also applied to those marching in protests to support the Black Lives Matters movement
President Trump at the 2016 convention in Cleveland; the large number of delegates and supporters makes social distancing impossible
President Trump held a roundtable at the Gateway Church in Dallas Thursday where people did not obey social distancing guidelines and few wore masks
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel announced Thursday night Jacksonville would host the GOP celebration for Trump, where he will be officially nominated as his party’s nominee.
‘We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion in the great city of Jacksonville,’ McDaniel said. ‘Not only does Florida hold a special place in President Trump´s heart as his home state, but it is crucial in the path to victory in 2020. We look forward to bringing this great celebration and economic boon to the Sunshine State in just a few short months.’
The party will keep some convention business in Charlotte so it won’t void its contract with the city.
But the majority of events appear to be taking place in Jacksonville, which lobbied hard to get the convention after Trump expressed his displeasure that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina would not guarantee him the large crowd he wanted.
Florida Govenor Ron De Santis, a Republican, is close to Trump and also lobbied hard to hold the convention in the state.
Jacksonville already has a host committee website for the event, giving the dates of the Florida celebration as August 24-27, the same dates Republicans were scheduled to be in Charlotte.
Mayor Curry said Jacksonville will get ‘majority of the events’ surrounding the convention but declined to be specific, saying he doesn’t want to ahead of any announcements by the party.
Trump will give his acceptance speech on August 27 – the anniversary of one of the biggest civil rights protests in Jacksonville.
On that day in 1960, a mob of 200 white people organized by the Ku Klux Klan chased and beat peaceful civil rights protesters. The mob used ax handles and baseball bats in an event remembered as ‘Ax Handle Saturday.’
President Trump has come under fire for his handling of the protests for the Black Lives Matters movement that sprung up around the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death. He was particularly criticized when law enforcement officials used chemical agents and rubber bullets to clear the area around the White House so he could take a photo-op at a church.
A Republican official defended the president.
‘President Trump has been a champion for the Black community, and we applaud the achievements his administration has made in the areas of economic development, education, and criminal justice reform. While we cannot erase some of the darkest moments of our nation’s past, we can denounce them, learn from them, fight for justice and a more perfect union for every American. That is exactly what President Trump has done,’ said Paris Dennard, the Republican National Committee’s senior communications advisor for black media affairs, in a statement.
The pressure will be on Jacksonville to pull together a convention quickly, which usually takes a year of planning.
There are few cities big enough to hold the thousands of delegates, journalists and observers that come with a national convention but also have a Republican mayor. Jacksonville fit the bill. Additionally, Florida is a battleground state that Trump needs to carry to win reelection.
He beat Hillary Clinton in Florida by fewer than 113,000 votes in 2016.
Complicating matters, Florida’s hurricane season started in June with predictions for an ‘above-average season’ with six to 10 hurricanes possible.
When Republicans held their convention in Tampa in 2012, the first day was marred by storms.