Trump sticks to rallies as COVID-19 roars back

With less than a week of voting to go, President Donald Trump on Wednesday held two more in-person campaign rallies - both in Arizona - despite a U.S. surge in COVID-19 cases and mounting criticism that he is prioritizing his re-election above the health of his supporters.

The pandemic that has upended life across the country this year, killing more than 227,000 people, is roaring back in the days leading up to the Nov. 3 election - but Trump continued to insist otherwise.

"And a safe vaccine is coming very quickly, you're going to have it momentarily, that eradicates the virus - and we're rounding the turn, regardless, you know that…."

Trump's running mate, Vice President Mike Pence, held his own rally in Wisconsin, where a record number of coronavirus cases and deaths has prompted the Democratic governor to urge people to stay at home, to wear masks and to cancel any gatherings with more than 5 people.

A campaign official told CNN all necessary precautions were being taken at Pence's event.

Epidemiologists say rallies pose grave public health risks because people shout and chant while packed closely together, often without wearing masks.

Officials in Michigan and Minnesota told Reuters they identified people who attended Trump campaign events in their states and later tested positive for COVID-19, though it was not clear if they were first exposed to the virus at the rallies or elsewhere.

Trump's Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, after a briefing from public health officials on Wednesday, slammed what he called the Trump administration's disregard for safety and failure to develop a plan to contain COVID-19.

"The longer he's in charge the more reckless he gets. It's enough!"

Biden also criticized his rival over reports that hundreds of Trump supporters were stuck in frigid temperatures for up to three hours after a rally in Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday night, waiting for campaign shuttle buses to take them back to their cars.

"Several folks ended up in the hospital. It's an image that captured President Trump's whole approach to this crisis... He gets his photo-op and then he gets out."

The Trump campaign said the problems were due to the unexpectedly large crowds.

Trump plans to visit 10 states in the final days of the campaign and will host 11 rallies in the final 48 hours.

Video Transcript

- With less than a week of voting to go, President Donald Trump on Wednesday held two more in-person campaign rallies, both in Arizona, despite a US surge in COVID-19 cases and mounting criticism that he is prioritizing his re-election above the health of his supporters. The pandemic that has upended life across the country this year, killing more than 227,000 people, is roaring back in the days leading up to the November 3 election. But Trump continued to insist otherwise.

DONALD TRUMP: And a safe vaccine is coming very quickly. You're going to have it momentarily that eradicates the virus. And we're rounding the turn regardless.

- Trump's running mate, Vice President Mike Pence, held his own rally in Wisconsin, where a record number of coronavirus cases and deaths has prompted the state's Democratic governor to urge people to stay home, to wear masks, and to cancel any gatherings with more than five people. A campaign official told CNN all necessary precautions were being taken at Pence's event.

MIKE PENCE: Well, hello, Wisconsin.

- Epidemiologists say rallies pose grave public health risks because people shout and chant while packed closely together, often without wearing masks. Officials in Michigan and Minnesota told Reuters they identified people who attended Trump campaign events in their states and later tested positive for COVID-19, though it was not clear if they were first exposed to the virus at the rallies or elsewhere.

Trump's Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, after a briefing from public health officials on Wednesday, slammed what he called the Trump administration's disregard for safety and failure to develop a plan to contain COVID-19.

JOE BIDEN: And the longer he's in charge, the more reckless he gets. It's enough.

- Biden also criticized his rival over reports that hundreds of Trump supporters were stuck in frigid temperatures for up to three hours after a rally in Omaha, Nebraska on Tuesday night waiting for campaign shuttle buses to take them back to their cars.

JOE BIDEN: Several folks ended up in the hospital. It's an image that captures President Trump's whole approach to this crisis. He gets his photo op, and then he gets out.

- The Trump campaign said the problems were due to the unexpectedly large crowds. Trump plans to visit 10 states in the final days of the campaign and will host 11 rallies in the final 48 hours.