US President Donald Trump on Sunday night held his first entirely indoor campaign rally in months, despite local orders barring indoor gatherings of more than 50 people.
The rally inside a manufacturing facility in Henderson, Nevada, comes as the US nears 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic that upended the economy.
While the US is seeing a downward trend in new coronavirus cases, public health experts say sustained and widespread social distancing practices are still necessary to prevent a forceful resurgence of the virus.
For over an hour Trump addressed a boisterous crowd of supporters – many of them not wearing masks – at the Xtreme Manufacturing facility, which is owned by one of his supporters.
“Tell your governor to open up your state,” Trump said, adding that the US is making its “last turn” in the coronavirus pandemic.
“51 days from now we’re going to win Nevada, and we’re going to win four more years in the White House,” Trump said.
Kathleen Richards, a spokesperson for the City of Henderson, told CNN the event is in violation of the state’s Covid-19 orders and the manufacturer host could lose it business licence.
Shortly before the rally, Steve Sisolak, Nevada’s Democratic governor, said Trump is taking “reckless and selfish actions that are putting countless lives in danger here in Nevada.”
Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communication director, justified the indoor rally, saying if Americans are able to take part in protests, “gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots,” they should be able to hear the president.
The campaign said it would carry out temperature checks at the event and provide masks and hand sanitizer, though attendees at Trump rallies often do not wear masks.
Trump’s last indoor rally took place in June in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after which the city saw a spike in Covid-19 cases.