Trump returns to campaigning, to visit Greenville NC

President Donald Trump will visit Eastern North Carolina on Thursday, less than two weeks after he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

Trump’s campaign announced that he will visit Greenville, hosting a rally at Pitt-Greenville Airport beginning at 1 p.m.

Thursday is the start of in-person early voting in North Carolina. It was also supposed to be the day of the second presidential debate, but it was canceled after the Presidential Debate Commission switched the town hall-style debate to a virtual event because of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, according to the Associated Press. The Trump campaign insisted that the event take place in person or not at all, leading to its cancellation.

All attendees at the Greenville event will receive temperature checks and be given masks, according to the Trump campaign. Hand sanitizer will also be available. Announcements for previous Trump campaign events, such as his Sept. 8 visit to Winston-Salem, did not describe those precautions.

Saturday, Dr. Sean P. Conley, the White House physician, released a memo saying Trump is no longer contagious. The New York Times reported that medical experts questioned some of the details in Conley’s memo and noted that people with severe cases of COVID-19 can be contagious for as long as 20 days.

Trump’s visit to Greenville will be at least his sixth to North Carolina this campaign season, although not all of those were for campaign events. Trump’s children and family members have also made frequent trips to the state, which is seen as playing a pivotal role in the Electoral College.

During a Fayetteville visit last month, Trump said he was going to nominate a woman to the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the night before by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That foreshadowed Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, a U.S. Appeals Court judge, to the seat. Barrett’s confirmation hearings will start Monday.

By contrast, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has visited North Carolina one time since receiving his party’s nomination. Biden visited Charlotte last month, saying a Biden administration would represent a chance to combat systemic racism.

Jill Biden, the nominee’s wife, visited Greenville and Fayetteville last week.

The Biden campaign’s in-person events have largely been socially distanced affairs, with members of the media and selected guests sitting in marked-off squares and wearing masks.

The Trump campaign’s events have typically been more crowded, with the president holding outdoor rallies at airports with little social distancing and few masks in the crowd.

Adam Wagner is a Report for America Corps member covering North Carolina’s recovery from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, as well as efforts to prepare the state for future storms. He previously worked at the Wilmington StarNews, where he covered multiple beats, including the environment.

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