A week after he was released from the hospital, President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail on Monday for his first official rally since he publicly announced he contracted the coronavirus. Even though polls have suggested Republicans are more concerned about becoming infected with COVID-19 since Trump contracted the virus it that wasn’t evident at Trump’s Monday rally in Sanford, Florida, where most people didn’t wear masks and thousands of supporters stood shoulder-to-shoulder.
It wasn’t just the rank-and-file supporters who eschewed masks. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in the crowd without a mask as he was surrounded by Trump supporters. Rep. Matt Gaetz was also photographed maskless. Trump himself didn’t wear a mask as he walked to board Air Force One to travel to Florida. He did, however, throw masks into the crowd at one point. Hours before the rally, Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, said the president had tested negative for COVID-19 “on consecutive days” but using a test that experts caution is not the most appropriate, nor the most exact, for these purposes.
During the rally, Trump was eager to show he was back in full force and once again claimed he was now immune to the coronavirus, an allegation that experts have disputed. “They say I’m immune. I feel so powerful,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women … Just give you a big fat kiss.” On Sunday, Twitter flagged a tweet Trump sent claiming he now has immunity to COVID-19 as “misleading and potentially harmful.”
Hours before the rally, Anthony Fauci warned that the president’s campaign rallies are “asking for trouble.” In an interview on CNN, Fauci was asked about “the public health matter” of Trump’s decision to continue with the rallies ahead of the election. “We’ve seen that when you have situations of congregate settings where there are a lot of people without masks, the data speak for themselves,” he said. “And now is even more so a worse time to do that, because when you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very troublesome.”