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Trump to campaign in Arizona as COVID cases climb

Trump campaign to resume rallies
Trump campaign to resume rallies 04:24

Students for Trump announced this week that President Trump is planning to speak later this month at their convention in Phoenix on June 23, marking his second visit to the state since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 
 
But that visit comes as COVID-19 cases have climbed in recent days across the battleground state, with local health officials urging residents to avoid the very type of large indoor gatherings the president's visit will likely involve.
 
"While any president has a right to visit our great city, it is very worrisome that this president will visit and have a rally as our state is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases," Phoenix Councilwoman Debra Stark told CBS News in a statement. Stark, a Democrat, represents the area where the convention will be held.
 
Students for Trump is a project of the conservative organization Turning Point Action and is not directly affiliated with the president's campaign. An organizer with the group said thousands were expected to attend the president's "address to young Americans" from across the country, which will also be streamed to satellite locations. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
 
The president's remarks are slated to take place on the campus of Phoenix mega-church Dream City Church, which touts a "6,500-seat auditorium, one of the largest sanctuaries in America" in a biography of its senior pastor. 
 
Dream City Church, which reopened for in-person services at the end of May, declined a request for an interview. A video posted by the church urges worshippers to socially distance as they return to the campus, though it says masks are optional.
 
Turning Point Action did not disclose any details on how organizers planned to address coronavirus concerns. The Trump campaign has also not yet announced whether it will require COVID-19 liability waivers from speech attendees, after the campaign required COVID-19  waivers for those will be going to the president's upcoming campaign rally in Oklahoma. 
 
While Phoenix has seen specific outbreaks of the disease, health officials warn community spread has also driven much of the recent surge in cases. 
 
Arizona disclosed a record 1,291 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, and its trend in average new infections is the worst in the country, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. 
 
"We know it's also people going back to work, people interacting, people engaging sometimes in groups of more than 10. And that's why it's so important to keep those groups of people down and then, if you do interact within six feet, to wear that cloth face mask," Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, head of disease control for Maricopa County, said Wednesday at a press conference.
 
Asked for comment, a county official pointed to guidance applying to "all gatherings and activities" including recommendations imploring residents to avoid groups of more than 10 people and limit contact with those outside of their household. 
 
A recent modeling analysis warned that the state was on track to run out of hospital capacity by July, though Arizona Governor Doug Ducey sought this week to downplay the surge in cases and reassure residents the state was "well-prepared to manage an increase in patient volume."
 
"The president is always welcome in Arizona. I know I've said that before, and I'll continue to say it," Ducey, a Republican, told reporters earlier this month.
 
Ducey was addressing speculation the president might deliver his GOP convention remarks in Phoenix. The party has since decided on a site in Florida to host the event.
 
"Regardless of the convention, or the political party, in the environment we're in right now, wherever the convention goes, there's going to be concerns and we would deal with them in turn," added Ducey.
 
A spokesperson for Ducey did not return a request for comment.
 
President Trump's stop will be his third for the year in Arizona so far. In 2016, he scored a crucial victory that Republicans are keen to defend amid months of polls showing former Vice President Joe Biden ahead in the state. 
 
"The Democrats are very mobilized, and you see that on campus. Republicans need a force to match it and hopefully this is the start of something where we're going to get a lot more activism on campus," said Joe Pitts, president of the Arizona State University College Republicans.
 
The group has invited much of its membership, which counts several hundred among its email list on campus, to attend the event. 
 
Pitts, who is in his second year studying business law at ASU, acknowledged the risk of catching the disease at the event concerned him. He said he plans to wear a mask and sounded hopeful about social distancing at the event.
 
"I do hope that that's recommended because coronavirus is still out there. And if we want to reopen fully, we're going to have to hold ourselves to higher health standards," said Pitts.

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