Trump’s Florida rally raises concerns, draws criticism, prompts lawsuit

By John Haughey
The Center Square
October 12, 2020

Ten days after being hospitalized with COVID-19, President Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail Monday evening with an Orlando Sanford International Airport rally expected to draw thousands.

Despite assurances from Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, that Trump met Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria for leaving isolation and is no longer a “transmission risk,” many medical experts doubt the president is fully recovered from the coronavirus and believe he still could be contagious and is endangering his own supporters with plans to follow up Monday’s rally with similar “2016-style” events in Pennsylvania and Iowa later this week.

Trump in a Sunday tweet later tagged by Twitter for containing misinformation, declared Conley’s memo was “a total and complete sign off from White House Doctors yesterday. That means I can’t get it (immune), and can’t give it. Very nice to know!!!”

The Orlando Sanford International Airport (OSIA) rally originally was scheduled for Oct. 2 but was postponed when the president tested positive for COVID-19 the night before. A 2016 Trump campaign rally at OSIA drew 10,000 supporters.

Trump’s campaign website asks rally-goers to register for tickets. It features this warning: “In attending the event, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19, and waive, release, and discharge Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; the host venue; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers from any and all liability under any theory, whether in negligence or otherwise, for any illness or injury.”

Noting the White House and Trump campaign have not reached out to state or county agencies to discuss safety protocols for the rally, local public health officials are concerned it could be a “super spreader” event.

Democrats said Trump’s “pandemic road show” demonstrates he is dangerously unsuited to lead in a crisis.

“President Trump comes to Sanford today bringing nothing but reckless behavior, divisive rhetoric and fear-mongering,” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said in a statement Monday.

“But, equally dangerous,” Biden said, “is what he fails to bring: no plan to get this virus that has taken the lives of over 15,000 Floridians under control, no plan to protect Floridians’ health care amid his attacks against the ACA, and certainly no plan to mitigate the economic impact the pandemic is having on families across Central Florida.”

At least one lawsuit asks for the rally be declared a public health “nuisance” and be cancelled.

Daniel Uhlfelder, the Santa Rosa attorney who unsuccessfully sued Gov. Ron DeSantis for not closing Florida beaches, filed a lawsuit Saturday in Seminole Circuit Court on behalf of three airport area residents.

“Trump has made numerous false statements about his condition and COVID-19 since being discharged from the hospital which will only embolden his supporters at the MAGA Event,” the suit states. “These supporters will travel to Seminole County and spread the virus as they often refuse to wear masks and take safety precautions akin to their leader.”

Uhlfelder’s suit is unlikely to be heard, much less acted on, before Monday’s rally, which, according to former Florida attorney general and Women For Trump PAC chairperson Pam Bondi, will be the first of many in Florida in the campaign’s final weeks.

“Get ready to see President Trump,” Bondi said Sunday on Fox News. “He has so many events scheduled, in Florida and around the country. Get ready to see President Trump coming to an airport near you.”

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