Donald Trump has scheduled one of his superspreader campaign rallies at the airport in Rochester, MN late Friday afternoon. The last time he visited the state was just days before it was announced that he had contracted COVID-19. We now know that 15 people were infected as a result of his stops in Bemidji and Duluth.
Like many other states, Minnesota has experienced a spike in the number of COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths over the last couple of weeks. State guidelines imposed by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz mandate the wearing of masks in public and limit outdoor crowds to no more than 250 socially distanced people. Rochester, the city Trump will visit, is home to the famed Mayo Clinic. A town filled with health care workers and patients with underlying conditions is especially vulnerable to spreader events.
All of that explains why an inherently conservative institution like the Mayo Clinic issued a statement to those who might be planning to attend the Trump rally. Not only did the clinic support the state’s guidelines, affirming that they were “put in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public’s health,” it warned that “community members who choose to attend a large event that exceeds recommended guidelines should contact their healthcare provider and be evaluated for possible COVID-19 testing.”
In many ways, the Mayo Clinic is Dr. Anthony Fauci writ large. It has scrupulously avoided partisan politics. But their entire organization is based on an embrace of medical science. The political party that has rejected science and, in doing so, threatened the health of their employees and patients, made it necessary for the Mayo Clinic to take a stand—just like the New England Journal of Medicine, which declared that the Trump administration has “taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”
Gov. Walz, who previously represented the district that includes the city of Rochester, weighed in on the superspreader event by saying that “these large rallies that are unmasked with elected officials going, I just have to be candid, they are incredibly unhelpful…If you need to hear them speak, just Google it. Watch it on your phone, and let’s get through this.”
No respectable politician in Minnesota wants to find themselves at odds with the Mayo Clinic. But of course, Trump has never been one to worry about respectability.