WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- President Donald Trump said that campaign rallies are “very safe” amidst the spread of coronavirus and the increase of cases in the United States.
- Various large event organizers, such as Facebook, the American Physical Society and even the US government, have cancelled respective events as coronavirus fears grow.
- Given that large gatherings, including political rallies, are inevitable especially in this campaign period, health experts warn the public to avoid any close contact with strangers, such as shaking of hands and greeting others with a kiss.
President Donald Trump said on Monday that campaign rallies are “very safe,” when asked if he was worried about whether large gatherings were safe.
“Well, these were set up a long time ago and others are,” Trump told reporters. “You could ask that to the Democrats because they’re having a lot of rallies. They’re all having rallies. That’s what they’re doing. They’re campaigning.”
The tally of infections in the United States continued to rise—contrary to Trump’s press release that the number of coronavirus cases in the US was “going very substantially down, not up” during a news conference at White House on February 27.
Jeffrey Duchin, MD, Seattle and King County health officer for public health, said in a Monday news conference that there is a heightened risk that everyone will become infected. Duchin stated that his office was “not recommending widespread cancellation of large gatherings,” but noted that those at higher risk should avoid them.
The contagion of the virus is more likely to happen in large gatherings, especially that, according to experts, it can be spread through droplets in the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
Dozens of large events have already been canceled as a precaution since the virus reached more than 60 countries around the world, infecting nearly 90,000 and killing over 3,000s.
In the United States, Facebook cancelled a developer’s conference in San Jose, California, set on May 5-6. The Game Developers Conference also deferred its San Francisco show on March 16-20. The American Physical Society cancelled its annual meeting in Denver just two days before the opening—even after participating scientists had already arrived in the city.
The Trump administration also put off a March 14 Las Vegas meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Health officials have advised avoiding shaking hands or greeting others with a kiss, especially at large political rallies which are unavoidable especially in this campaign season.