At least nine people who attended a rally hosted by President Donald Trump’s campaign last month in Bemidji, Minnesota, later tested positive for COVID-19, state health officials said Friday.
Trump spoke with attendees at the rally, which was held outside at an airport hangar on September 18. It was one of several campaign stops that Trump made in recent months after states began loosening restrictions put in place due to the pandemic.
According to Kris Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), two of the nine rally attendees who tested positive were hospitalized for treatment of the virus.
“For the Bemidji rally, nine cases reported attending the rally; one case was known to be infectious,” Ehresmann said during a Friday news conference. “There were two hospitalizations that were associated with that—one who was in intensive care—and no deaths at this point.” She said health officials were continuing to monitor another rally that Trump held in Duluth, Minnesota, on September 30.
Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 early in the morning on October 2, just two weeks after the Bemidji campaign event. Trump was later hospitalized for three days while medical professionals oversaw his treatment, and several officials within his administration have also tested positive for the virus over the last week.
Trump returned to the White House on Monday, and his campaign said on Friday that he would begin hosting campaign events again soon. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley issued a statement on Friday saying that he “fully anticipate[s] the President’s safe return to public engagements” by Saturday, eight days after Trump tested positive.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 patients who experienced symptoms can be around other people starting 10 days after their symptoms first appeared, so long as their symptoms are getting better and it has been at least 24 hours since they had a fever. Individuals who were exposed to the virus have been instructed by the CDC to quarantine for 14 days, which is believed to be the duration of the virus’ incubation period.
The president had a busy campaign schedule in the days before he tested positive, which included the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29 and campaign stops in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Minnesota. After Trump announced that he had contracted the virus, the MDH issued a statement encouraging those who attended the Duluth rally to get tested for the virus if they began experiencing symptoms.
By Friday, October 9, state health officials said 109,312 people had tested positive for the virus and 2,121 people had died since the start of the pandemic. The U.S. currently leads the world with the greatest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths, with more than 7.6 million cases and 213,000 deaths reported, according to the Johns Hopkins University virus tracker.
Newsweek reached out to Trump’s campaign for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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