CNB News – Two people who attended President Trump‘s rally at an airport in Gaston County in North Carolina last week have tested positive for COVID-19, the county health department said Thursday.
The Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services said the cases are not thought to be an indication of spread from the rally, but rather two independent cases among individuals who were in attendance.
One of the people infected was a local television reporter, who tweeted that he was wearing a mask the entire time “but due to Secret Service protocols, there were several times when social distancing wasn’t possible.”
Full disclosure: I'm one of the two people who tested positive after covering Pres. Trump's Gastonia rally. Thankfully, I feel okay though I'm quarantining per county guidelines. @wcnc and I contacted everyone who I've (1/2) pic.twitter.com/Cj0kVbcH87
— Brandon Goldner (@BrandonWCNC) October 29, 2020
Contact tracing is underway, and other places these individuals have been and other close contacts to these individuals are being notified directly by public health staff.
However, the county said it is making a broader announcement “because of the large number of potential contacts from the rally, and the inability to alert them directly.”
Community members who attended can assess their own risk and take appropriate actions, and the county is encouraging them to monitor their symptoms and seek testing if needed.
While the rally was outdoors, which public health experts say helps reduce the spread of the virus, it still drew tens of thousands of people who were standing shoulder to shoulder, many of whom were not wearing masks.
The announcement comes as coronavirus cases across the U.S. have been spiking to record-high numbers. On Thursday, North Carolina hit a record high of 2,885 new coronavirus cases reported in a single day. The state’s seven-day average is around 2,000 cases.
Without mentioning Trump by name, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) on Wednesday said he was concerned about large political rallies, and that people may not be comfortable talking to contact tracers about where they may have been exposed.
“I’m really concerned about campaigns that fly in all over the place and come into North Carolina, hold these large events, gathering a lot of people together, also bringing in people from out of state, and then leaving,” because North Carolina residents will be left to deal with the aftermath, Cooper said at a press conference.
“And we know two to three weeks later, oftentimes, you see spread that occurs, infections that occur,” Cooper said.
North Carolina prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people outdoors in venues that hold fewer than 10,000 people, and a cap of 7 percent capacity for venues that are larger.
However, the order exempts freedom of speech activities protected by the First Amendment, such as protests and campaign rallies.