RENO, Nev. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence plans a rally Thursday at Reno-Tahoe International Airport as both presidential campaigns focus on Nevada and other battleground states in their final run to Election Day.
The visit comes despite a cornonavirus outbreak in Pence’s office. The White House approved his swing-state tour, claiming guidelines on the activities of essential workers allowed the vice president to exempt himself from quarantine and continue campaigning.
After being exposed to infected staff members, including his chief of staff Marc Short, Pence has tested negative for COVID-19. His decision to continue campaigning has brought pushback from the Committee to Protect Medicare, a political action committee that opposes President Trump’s reelection bid.
In a letter signed by more than 250 doctors, including five from Nevada, the group criticized Pence for holding rallies in defiance of guidelines that would have him quarantine and in spite of evidence showing large political rallies of mostly mask-less individuals have been linked to the spread of the virus.
Dr. Nita Schwartz, an emergency physician from Genoa, Nevada, said she worried about the rally exacerbating the surge in new cases.
“Repeating a reckless, risky event like a packed campaign rally is just asking for trouble. When the vice resident goes back to Washington … my colleagues and I will have to put on our N95 masks and deal with the consequences of his super-spreader event,” Schwartz said.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the letter.
The lease holder at the Reno airport hangar where Pence plans the 5 p.m. rally has signed an agreement that requires the Republican National Committee to adhere to all Nevada COVID-19 restrictions, including a 250-person attendance cap and mandatory masks.
The lease holder, longtime GOP donor Perry Di Loreto, signed the agreement Monday. That’s the same day Nevada fined a nearby rural county and airport more than $5,500 for allowing a campaign event for President Donald Trump that drew thousands of mostly unmasked people in September. The 50-person cap in place at that time has since been raised to 250.
AP writer Scott Sonner contributed. Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.