Despite growing coronavirus fears in the US, 2020 candidates show no sign of slowing


Posted on: March 7th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

adamkaz/iStock(WASHINGTON) —  Amid the ongoing novel coronavirus threat and despite fears of the virus spreading in the U.S., President Donald Trump and the 2020 democratic presidential front runners are continuing to campaign.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told ABC News on Saturday that they were “proceeding as normal” with the reelection events, though Trump currently has no rallies on his public schedule. But in the last week, states like Washington, New York and California have all declared a state of emergency and other events with large gatherings — like South by Southwest — are being canceled across the country.

“We will announce rallies when we are ready to do so. President Trump had a town hall this week, a fundraiser and we have loads of campaign events on the event schedule on the website,” Erin Perrine, the Trump campaign’s principal deputy communications director told ABC News.

While there haven’t been changes in planning so far around the coronavirus outbreak, the Trump campaign has held discussions about what to do if the rallies have to be put on hold, which currently isn’t the plan, two campaign sources told ABC News.

Currently, the number of Americans diagnosed with the novel coronavirus is now at least 340, according to a case count by Johns Hopkins University. At least 17 people have died in the U.S. in Washington state, California and Florida.

On Friday, the White House imposed new guest restrictions, include checking where guests have traveled recently.

Some of the procedures are standard, including increased cleaning of high-traffic areas and educating staff on best hygiene practices and sick leave policies.

The president has defended holding rallies amid the crisis, including at a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday, saying his rallies continue to thrive, even as more cases of coronavirus in the U.S. arise.

During his visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday, Trump said his rallies continue to thrive, even as more cases of coronavirus in the U.S. arise.

“I tell you what, I haven’t had any problem filling them,” he said of recent rallies. “It doesn’t bother them and it doesn’t bother me.”

On Monday, when Trump was asked if he thinks it’s safe to hold big rallies as the virus spreads he said, “I think it’s very safe.”

“I think it’s very safe,” he said. “These were set up a long time ago.”

He also pointed out that the Democratic contenders too were still “all having rallies.”

While the Trump campaign maintains it will continue, the president’s Democratic rivals seem to be doing the same amid their intensifying and winnowing primary.

Both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden have held events in recent days and have rallies scheduled throughout the weekend, likely to attract large crowds.

On Saturday, Biden is holding a rally in Missouri with more than 1,5000 people expected to attend. ABC News reached out to the Biden campaign about how its rallies could be affected by the coronavirus, but it declined to comment.

The Sanders campaign didn’t indicate any plans to change its upcoming schedule, with a campaign official telling ABC News, “We continue to be in direct contact with local health officials.”

Since Monday, the Trump campaign has yet to announce another rally.

If one isn’t announced for early next week — ahead of the Democratic primary contests on Tuesday — it will be the first time this primary season that he doesn’t counter-rally in order to disrupt the Democrats.

The Trump campaign is still holding events, including a “Women for Trump” bus tour next week across Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — a state that has reported a case of the virus.

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