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Valley doctor: Trump rallies could be COVID-19 ‘super spreader events’

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — A Valley doctor worries the two rallies President Donald Trump held in Arizona on Monday could be “super spreader events” for the coronavirus at a time when that state is seeing a rise in cases and hospitalizations.

“The last thing President Trump should be doing right now is coming to Arizona, bringing people into packed quarters and spreading misinformation to large audiences,” said Dr. Susan Hughes, a family physician in Scottsdale.

She called the president’s decision to hold rallies in Prescott and Tucson “reckless and irresponsible.” She emphasized that anyone who attended the rallies should assume they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and should self-quarantine for 14 days.

Hughes made those comments during a virtual press briefing ahead of the rallies. It was organized by the Committee to Protect Medicare, a national advocacy organization made up of frontline doctors who support a stronger U.S. healthcare system.

She noted Arizona “has been hit hard by COVID-19” with nearly 6,000 people dying from the virus. Though key metrics for the virus have dropped substantially since peaking over the summer, cases and hospitalizations have been trending upward this month.

Hughes said she worries the two campaign rallies on Monday “not only could but will spread COVID-19” as have similar rallies in other states, including in Minnesota where state health officials have traced nearly two dozen COVID-19 cases to two rallies Trump held in September.

“As a physician, I can tell you with certainty that Trump’s rallies are a threat to our public health,” she said, adding that they “fly in the face of the recommendations” from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to wear a mask, socially distance and avoid large gatherings.

“We’ve seen across Trump’s many rallies that people are rarely following these science-based guidelines,” Hughes said. “Most stand shoulder-to-shoulder without a mask.”

People had their temperatures checked before they could proceed to the rally at the Prescott Regional Airport and at the Tucson International Airport. But like with previous rallies, socially distancing was difficult to practice and most supporters did not wear a mask.

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