By Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence planned to campaign on Wednesday in the U.S. election battleground state of Wisconsin, where a record high number of coronavirus cases has prompted the governor to urge people to stay at home.
Wisconsin broke one-day state records in both cases and deaths on Tuesday. State officials asked residents to quarantine voluntarily when possible, wear masks and cancel social gatherings with more than five people.
“There’s no way to sugarcoat it – we are facing an urgent crisis and there is an imminent risk to you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors, and the people you care about,” Governor Tony Evers said. “Stay home, Wisconsin.”
Hogan Gidley, spokesman for President Donald Trump’s campaign, ascribed the governor’s concerns to Evers’ being a Democrat who did not like the idea of a Republican campaigning in his state before Tuesday’s presidential election.
Trump and Pence, his running mate, are both Republicans.
Their campaign is taking all necessary precautions at the event in Mosinee, Wisconsin, including handing out masks and taking temperature checks of everyone coming into the facility, Gidley told CNN in an interview.
Asked whether holding a big rally raised concerns given that aides to Pence have tested positive and Wisconsin hospitals are near capacity, Gidley said: “No, it doesn’t … The vice president has the best doctors in the world around him. They’ve obviously contact traced and come to the conclusion it’s fine for him to be out on the campaign trail.”
Trump, facing a tough re-election battle against Democratic challenger Joe Biden, has asserted repeatedly that the country is “rounding the turn” in a pandemic that has killed more than 226,000 people in the United States since erupting in March.
Trump has been on the defensive over the virus, accusing the news media of pushing the story to hurt him.
“Covid, Covid, Covid is the unified chant of the Fake News Lamestream Media. They will talk about nothing else until November 4th., when the Election will be (hopefully!) over,” the president wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
Reuters/Ipsos polling from Oct. 20-26 shows Biden with a solid lead over Trump, 53%-44%, in Wisconsin, which as a battleground state could decide the election.
Health experts believe the virus is surging because of private social gatherings, colder temperatures driving people inside, and Americans’ fatigue with COVID-19 restrictions in place for up to seven months.
Global stocks and the euro tumbled on Wednesday as coronavirus infections rose in Europe and the United States, igniting fears of strict lockdowns that would damage fragile economic recoveries. [L4N2HJ2XJ]
New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have been setting records in the Midwest. Other coronavirus hot spots include Illinois, which reported 31,000 new infections over the past week, and Pennsylvania another battleground state.
Nationwide more than 5,600 people died from the virus in the last week, with hospitalizations rising 13%, a Reuters analysis showed.
Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Howard Goller
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.