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Trump rally first 2020 campaign event in Iowa as COVID-19 numbers spiking
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Trump rally first 2020 campaign event in Iowa as COVID-19 numbers spiking

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Two people wear Donald Trump face coverings while attending a rally for Vice President Mike Pence at PVS Structures in Carter Lake, Iowa, on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.

DES MOINES — The first presidential visit to Iowa during the 2020 general election campaign finally comes Wednesday in the form of Republican President Donald Trump.

And it comes as Iowa’s COVID-19 numbers are surging in a dangerous direction, and just shy of two weeks since Trump was hospitalized for the virus.

Polling suggests Iowa is once again a swing state in the presidential election: Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight both report polls, on average, have shown Trump and Democratic challenger and former U.S. vice president Joe Biden virtually tied in Iowa, a state Trump won by nearly 10 percentage points four years ago.

But while the polls show a close race here, the presidential campaigns have not shown Iowa as much attention as other battleground states, including neighboring Wisconsin and Minnesota.

While time is running out on the election clock — Election Day, Nov. 3, is less than three weeks away, and early voting in Iowa has already started — the Trump campaign visit comes at an otherwise inopportune moment: Iowa’s COVID-19-related hospitalizations are at their highest point of the pandemic, and deaths are steadily increasing, too.

Iowa’s two-week averages for current COVID-19-related hospitalizations and recent admissions are at their highest points of the pandemic, and the two-week average of new COVID-19-related deaths also has been climbing in recent weeks.

According to the White House’s own COVID-19 task force, Iowa recently had the sixth-highest rate of new cases per capita in the U.S., and Polk County — where the Trump rally is being held — had the highest number of new cases in the state.

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The rally is scheduled to be held outside at the Des Moines airport.

“The last thing we need is any person who may still be contagious with the virus holding a potential super-spreader event here in Iowa,” Mark Smith, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said in a statement. The president’s physician on Monday determined Trump is no longer infectious to others, and that Trump has tested negative for the virus. “Iowans need a president who will put the health and safety of the country above their own ego. There is no argument: Joe Biden will be that president.”

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said she plans to attend and on social media encouraged other Trump supporters to as well. Republican former Gov. Terry Branstad, fresh off his return from China where he served as Trump’s U.S. ambassador over the past four years ago, also plans to attend.

The candidates for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District — the district that includes Des Moines and Polk County — were asked during a debate this week whether Trump’s rally was a good idea.

“We’re 22 days out from the election and it’s natural to want to get out there,” said David Young, the Republican candidate and former Congressman. “I’m just hoping the proper protocols will be put out there, people will wear masks and be socially distanced.”

“People are volunteering to go to these events. Nobody is forcing them,” Young continued.

Cindy Axne, the Democratic incumbent, said the rally should “absolutely not” be held here, noting federal public health guidelines that warn against large gatherings during the pandemic.

“By the president coming here to our state shows his carelessness and recklessness for people,” Axne said.

Tickets to the event, which are free, are available at donaldjtrump.com/events.

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