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Trump to hold campaign rally in Winston-Salem; tells attendees to 'assume all risks' of virus infection

Posted September 4, 2020 8:22 p.m. EDT
Updated September 8, 2020 12:32 p.m. EDT

— President Donald Trump plans to hold his first campaign rally in North Carolina in the age of coronavirus on Tuesday night, and his campaign is telling people to attend at their own risk.

Trump stopped in Wilmington not even a week ago, to honor the city's role in World War II. There he was greeted by supporters and few of the them were seen wearing masks. He also stopped in Charlotte to speak at the Republican National Convention and

His visit to the Smith-Reynolds Regional Airport Tuesday evening is the first full-fledged campaign rally he's held in the battleground state since one in Charlotte in early March.

Because of the risks associated with large crowds during the pandemic, Trump's campaign has issued a warning to anyone planning to attend.

"By registering for this event, you understand and expressly acknowledge that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. In attending the event, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19, and waive, release and discharge Donald J. Trump for President," the invitation states.

Dr. Amir Barzin, an assistant professor at the UNC School of Medicine, said Friday that, when it comes to any large event right now, political or otherwise, the best bet is to avoid it because you simply don’t know if someone nearby is infected.

"Whatever you can do to prevent yourself from large gatherings, it’s helpful," Barzin said. "There is going to be an increased risk, especially if it’s indoors or closed off."

Trump's Winston-Salem rally could be outdoors.

"It’s very, very rare that you would go to a gathering with 300, 400, 500 people and you know every single person there, and you can say, 'I know for a fact that they have been quarantining at home for 14 days, and this is the only thing that they came out for,'" Barzin said. "That would be really, really difficult."

Oklahoma health officials reported a spike in coronavirus cases in that state shortly after Trump held an indoor rally in Tulsa in late June. Dozens of the president's Secret Service agents and a number of campaign staffers had to be quarantined after interacting with people who later tested positive for the virus.

Four people were infected at the RNC meeting in Charlotte last week.

Instead of attending a political rally, Barzin recommended that people get involved in a campaign virtually by speaking out online or donating.

"If it is really something that you're passionate about and it’s something that motivates you to get up in the morning and is a make or break for you, then it’s hard for me to say that it’s not important," he said, offering some simple advice to those determined to rally with other supporters.

"Continue to do the things we always talk about, which is good hand hygiene. If you are walking in a crowd, be conscious of the people that are around you and keeping distance from them, and just wear your mask every second that you are there," he said.

Officials in Winston-Salem spoke to WXII about how they are preparing for the campaign rally.

Mark Davidson, airport director for the Smith Reynolds Regional Airport said he was concerned that they weren't going to get any campaign visits during the pandemic.

"It's very exciting when Air Force One comes to town," he told WXII.

People can't just show up to the event, they have to register online first so that the organizers know what kind of precautions they need to take, Davidson said.

Lt. John Morris with the Winston-Salem Police Department said the city has accommodated for the past three presidents.

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