Oct 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events

Photo of a packed crowd of people at a Trump event

President Trump speaks to a crowd of 2,000 supporters during a rally at the Bemidji Regional Airport on Sept. 18 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Photo by Stephen Maturen via Getty

The Minnesota Department of Health has traced nearly two dozen coronavirus cases to three campaign events held last month, an official told Axios on Monday.

Why it matters: The Trump campaign has come under repeated fire for being lax about mask requirements and not adhering to social distancing and other local guidelines at its events.

  • Minnesota has also seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, with nearly 1,600 new COVID-19 cases reported on Monday, per MPR News.

Details: At least 23 cases were traced to outbreaks occurring at Trump campaign events in Bemidji, Minneapolis and Duluth, per Doug Schultz, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Health.

  • Officials have tied at least 16 cases, include two hospitalizations, to a rally, attended by President Trump, in Bemidji on Sept. 18, Schultz said.
  • More than 2,000 people attended the rally, per CNN, and many did not wear masks.
  • State officials also traced three cases to a "Cops for Trump" event in Minneapolis, which was held indoors on Sept. 24 and attended by Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump.
  • Four other cases were traced to a Trump rally held in Duluth on Sept. 30.
  • Schulz confirmed the cases that emerged at each event can be considered an outbreak, which is defined by the health department as involving “two or more cases of illness related by time and place in which an epidemiologic investigation suggests either person-to-person transmission occurred or a vehicle other than food or water (e.g., animal contact) is identified."
  • He noted, however, that people did not necessarily get infected at the events "directly."

What they're saying: Courtney Parella, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign, told Axios the campaign takes "strong precautions for our campaign events, requiring every attendee to have their temperature checked, be provided a mask they’re instructed to wear, and ensuring access to plenty of hand sanitizer."

  • She added that the campaign also has "signs at our events instructing attendees to wear their masks."

Of note: Minnesota has traced cases to other events related to the election.

  • Four cases were traced to a counter-protest held near the rally in Bemidji on Sept. 18.
  • One case was traced to a Joe Biden campaign stop in Duluth on Sept. 18.
  • One case was traced to an event with Eric Trump on Oct. 1.
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