MADISON (WKOW) -- With the President and Vice President scheduled to host in-person campaign events in Wisconsin this week, health professionals are raising concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in large group settings.
On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to host a roundtable discussion on school choice in Waukesha then host his first ‘Faith in America’ event in Pewaukee. President Donald Trump will visit Marinette Marine on Thursday where he plans to tour the shipyard and deliver remarks.
Trump held his first campaign rally since the breakout of the coronavirus in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Now, medical professionals in Wisconsin are concerned about the health and safety of those attending similar events.
“Once you have thousands of people congregating in close proximity of each other for an extended amount of time with community transmission and the almost near certainty that some people in that location do have COVID, there are risks there and there’s no other way to say it,” said Dr. Jeff Pothof, UW Health Chief Quality and Safety Officer.
While Wisconsin is not seeing a surge in positive cases, southern states are. For the third straight day, Florida and South Carolina broke their single-day records for new cases and it's catching the attention of doctors here.
Pence and Trump’s campaigns have not said what safety measures will be in place. Leaders with the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) believe it’s the right time to get back on the campaign trail despite the health concerns.
"I think the timing is right,” said Mark Jefferson, Executive Director of RPW. “Here in Wisconsin we've had two elections since the pandemic started, we've had demonstrations all over the state….and we haven't had those spikes that a lot of people have warned us about.”
Democrats argue the rallies will be a distraction and worry the campaigns won't take proper steps to keep people safe as COVID-19 continues to spread.
“I am gravely concerned,” said Ben Wikler, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “Political vanity trips in mists of the coronavirus pandemic do distract attention from resources that could be put into controlling this pandemic and getting our economy back to work,” he said.
If you don’t feel comfortable attending these events, Andrew Hitt Chairman of RPW is encouraging people to stay home.
“If they are in a vulnerable class, immune compromised or not comfortable then they should refrain,” said Hitt.
The significance of the visits come as Trump’s reelection campaign is making Wisconsin a priority after narrowly defeating Hilary Clinton by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016.
The push to hold in-person campaign efforts comes as Trump's support is slipping in battleground states and surveys put him in a tight race against his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.