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JANESVILLE – Thousands of Donald Trump fans, many without masks, filtered on the airport asphalt on Saturday afternoon as they awaited a visit from the president amid growing coronavirus cases in Wisconsin.

“This whole pandemic is a scam,” said Eau Claire’s Brandon Rice as he waited in line at South Wisconsin Regional Airport in Janesville. “I think it was done to make it look bad. This is fake news. “

Some of the participants in Saturday’s Trump rally wore masks, others did not, and some left them hanging on their chins, leaving their mouths and noses open.

Those present were given temperature checks and masks if they did not have them. Signs at the gate asked people to wear masks.

“I refuse to wear a mask,” Rice said. When asked why, he replied, “Because I’m not a sheep and I’m not afraid. That’s their way of gaining control over us.”

“Everyone has passed a temperature test, so I don’t see a problem,” he added.

The event is a gathering that public health officials warn of as Wisconsin struggles with congested hospitals – gathering thousands of people in one place without requiring face masks or spacing.

But the rally is not beyond the limits of state emergency orders, and Trump is just over two weeks from the day he needs Wisconsin voters to bring the state back into his column as he lags behind Democratic opponent Joe Biden in state elections.

Those present were confident that Trump would oppose the polls on November 3, just as he did in 2016, when he narrowly won Wisconsin.

“I think Trump will win because God has a hand in that and God won’t let us become socialists,” said Connie Channy of Sterling, Ill.

Like Rice, she chose not to wear a face covering, saying “I’m not a masked man.”

“I don’t think it’s anything more than the flu,” Cheney told COVID-19. “I’m not afraid and I don’t stop living my life because of it.”

The event comes a day after Wisconsin posted a record for the highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day – 3,861. The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 has tripled in Wisconsin in the last month and nearly 1,600 people in the state have died from him.

Prior to the visit, Biden accused Trump of “deliberately downplaying the burden” of the pandemic.

“Wisconsin is in the hands of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country,” Biden said in a statement. “Jill and I are praying for the health of those who have had the virus and for families grieving the loss of a loved one. We have lost too many lives because of this pandemic – and the sad fact is that it should not be this way. “

Those who gathered for the 18:00 event had to park for miles and take school buses to the airport – another health risk during a pandemic due to the narrow neighborhoods.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who recently quarantined after a positive COVID-19 test, said he does not usually wear a mask when outdoors. He said hard winds would help prevent infections.

“I don’t think it’s particularly dangerous at all,” the Oshko Republican told reporters as people joined the event and the “YMCA” of the rural people erupted over speakers.

Rock County Administrator Josh Smith, who runs the airport, said the county requires everyone at Rock County facilities to wear masks.

“With that in mind, the event takes place in a privately rented hangar that grants the owner the right to host events,” Smith said in an email. “We expect both local and state requirements to be met and we are confident that the campaign is aware of these requirements.”

Smith said Rock County officials had expressed “concerns about mass gatherings and the need to follow public health guidelines.”

“We will have to trust the decisions that people make to keep themselves and others safe,” he said in an email.

CONNECTED: Joe Biden spends Donald Trump on TV commercials in Wisconsin on election eve

Prior to the event, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers was less optimistic that he would follow guidelines to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

He told a news briefing Thursday that Trump was “promoting a super-spread event.”

Follow COVID-19 in Wisconsin: See the latest figures and trends

Evers said Trump could require those present to wear masks or be rejected.

“They don’t want to do that,” he told the campaign.

CONNECTED: Joe Biden hits Donald Trump in response to COVID-19 before presidential rally in Janesville

Brian Belt of Peuki noted the windy conditions on Saturday, saying it would limit the chances of people getting infected at the outdoor event. He did not wear a mask while waiting to enter.

“I have one with me if I feel the need to put it on,” he said.

Asked what he likes about Trump, Belt said: “This is a difficult question? Do you have all day? ”

He said Trump did a great job in the economy before COVID-19 hit the country, responded well to the virus, helped ease tensions in the Middle East and made life better for the middle class.

“He’s for the people,” Bell said.

As the crowd gathered in Janesville, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren pounced on Madison and fiercely denounced Trump as she tried to give Democrats the energy to vote for Biden.

From economics to racial justice to the coronavirus pandemic, the Massachusetts senator and one-time presidential candidate joined Trump and his policies during an afternoon car rally.

“We are eight months away (until the pandemic) and the Trump administration still has no plan to deal with this crisis. People are still dying, hundreds a day. On November 3, we will hold Donald Trump responsible,” Warren said as thunderbolts present.

Warren, who wore a mask during his speech, is scheduled to head the rally in Milwaukee later Saturday.

Trump’s visit comes after the president canceled one scheduled for October 3 as part of a double-headed event with a second rally in Green Bay. The rallies were called off after Trump announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

After the diagnosis, Trump’s doctor made conflicting statements about when the president tested positive, raising questions about when Trump’s campaign ended the two rallies in Wisconsin.

Sean Conley, a White House doctor, told reporters at a news conference on October 3 in front of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that Trump was “72 hours into diagnosis now,” which would mean a positive result before Trump’s campaign finalized its for events.

But the timetable remains unclear after an anonymous White House official contradicted Conley’s statement, saying Conley meant it was Day 3, not 72 hours later – suggesting the diagnosis was made after Wisconsin’s plans. Conley later gave his explanation.

The rallies were finalized despite the White House’s knowledge that a close aide to Trump, Hope Hicks, had yielded positive results.

Hours before Trump’s announcement, he clashed with city and county officials in three Wisconsin counties where his campaign called for rallies, despite growing coronavirus cases in the state – prompted the mayor of La Crosse to ask Trump to cancel a planned rally there.

Contact Molly Beck at molly.beck@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MollyBeck.

Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.

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