NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Local health officials say they have yet to identify a direct link between President Trump’s rally last week and new confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Since last Friday, metrics for the Eastern health region (Hampton Roads) have continued to trend down, along with the rest of Virginia. Some people did come to the rally from out of the area, but Trump’s requests for cheers from those from North Carolina were few.
“We continue to closely monitor COVID cases in our health district, and are conducting robust case investigations and contact tracing as test results are reported to the health department,” said Irene Ferrainolo, population health manager for the Hampton and Peninsula health districts.
But that doesn’t mean those that attended are in the clear yet, officials say. They’re encouraging rally attendees to still be careful due to the nature of the virus.
The coronavirus can incubate for more than a week before it’s detectable, with symptoms typically appearing about 5 days after exposure. And it can take as many as 14 days before symptoms appear, per the Centers for Disease Control.
Ferrainolo says the Virginia Department of Health is encouraging everyone to continue to wear face masks in public and practice social distancing, and get tested if they experience symptoms of COVID-19 or suspect they’ve been exposed.
About 4,000 people went to last Friday’s outdoor rally at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. The crowd was placed close together, with more than half were wearing masks, WAVY’s Brett Hall reported. However, even though many events the president has held during the pandemic have been outdoors (which are considered less risky than indoor events), health experts say the lack of distancing and mask wearing (and yelling) can lead to spread of the coronavirus.
Trump is always far away from those crowds, and those who do get close are tested beforehand. But even though his staff gets tested, they usually opt out of mask wearing and social distancing.
That risky behavior eventually caught up with President Trump and members of his inner circle this week.
He and several others, including his wife Melania and aide Hope Hicks, have tested positive for the coronavirus, but it’s not clear where exactly they contracted it. The president made numerous other stops in the past week, including Tuesday night’s debate in Cleveland.
On Friday afternoon, President Trump’s campaign announced all previously announced campaign events are either moving online or being temporarily postponed. All other campaign events going forward will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Vice President Pence is set to continue in-person events after testing negative.
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