Minnesota health officials say nine people diagnosed with COVID-19 attended a campaign rally in the state for President Trump.
The Sept. 18 rally, held at an airport in Bemidji, in northern Minnesota, was packed with supporters, few of whom wore masks.
Two of the nine have been hospitalized, including one in intensive care, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
The nine are part of a surge of coronavirus in rural areas of the state, which reported 1,401 newly confirmed cases and 14 deaths Friday, ending a week that saw more than 1,000 new cases each day. Active cases remain at a record high and hospitalization rates are trending higher, The Minneapolis Star-Tribute reported. Neighboring states Wisconsin and North Dakota are also experiencing growing outbreaks.
The president held a second Minnesota rally in Duluth on Sept. 30, the day after his debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden. No cases have been linked to that rally, but that night, on the way back to Washington, Trump aide Hope Hicks fell ill, the first sign of an outbreak at the White House that infected the president and sent him to the hospital last weekend.
The Trump campaign dismissed critics who called the maskless Minnesota rallies as dangerous.
“Tying these cases to an outdoor event that occurred three weeks ago, where hand sanitizer and face masks were supplied, is a stretch,” campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told The Hill. “We wish them all speedy recoveries.”
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