CHICAGO (CBS Chicago/CBS News/AP) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said Sunday that President Donald Trump and his allies in Illinois are partly to blame for the coronavirus spike in the state.
Pritzker spoke to CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“He’s modeling bad behavior. He doesn’t wear a mask in public. He has rallies where they don’t encourage people to wear masks in public,” Pritzker said. “But it is the president’s allies in our state, all across the state, who are simply saying to people, ‘Don’t pay any attention to the mitigations, don’t follow the rules.’ Indeed, there are bars and restaurants which are restricted from expanding their indoor service that are just ignoring the rules, and they’re just filling the place up.”
President Trump appeared Saturday at a rally in Janesville, Wisconsin, blasting Illinois’ COVID-19 restrictions and saying schools should fully reopen.
“Illinois could use a new governor,” Mr. Trump told supporters. “That guy doesn’t know what’s happened.”
Pritzker a spoke to CNN days after Illinois reported a new record for COVID-19 cases, coinciding with spikes elsewhere nationwide. That record was set on Friday, with 4,554 cases.
On Sunday, Illinois reported 4,245 new COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths. The seven-day positivity rate has climbed to 3.5 percent.
Wisconsin set a new record on Friday, with 3,861 cases.
Data for this COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin this weekend were not available. The state’s Department of Health Services website noted that the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System would be undergoing routine maintenance from Friday through Sunday and COVID-19 visualizations would not be updated during that time.
At his Janesville rally and another one in Muskegon, Michigan on Saturday, President Trump made few mentions of the pandemic at the rallies — except for his own battle against it and efforts to reopen the state.
“I wish you had a Republican governor because frankly, you’ve got to open your state up,” Mr. Trump said in Janesville. “You’ve got to open it up. You’ve got to open your state up, get everyone back to school.”
In Muskegon, Mr. Trump also called for the state to “open up.” “Now you’ve got to get your governor to open up your state, okay?” Mr. Trump said. “And get your schools open. Get your schools open. The schools have to be open, right?”
The crowd chanted “lock her up” and Mr. Trump responded “lock them all up.”
Later on, Mr. Trump said “a guy like Biden and the Democrats want to keep Michigan locked down and closed for business. It is so badly hurting your state.”
Referencing the alleged kidnapping plot against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Mr. Trump said, “I guess they say she was threatened.” Fourteen people have been charged in connection to an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer, including two who were photographed at an armed protest at the state Capitol to reopen the state in April.
Michigan and Wisconsin are two of the three states Mr. Trump flipped in 2016 that he needs to hold onto if he wants to win on November 3. On Saturday, Mr. Trump tried to tout the economy and hit Democratic nominee Joe Biden on trade and tie him to the protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
As to the COVID-19 risk, a Trump campaign spokesperson said the campaign has taken “strong precautions” for upcoming events.
“Every attendee has their temperature checked, is provided a mask they’re instructed to wear, and has access to plenty of hand sanitizer. We also have signs at our events instructing attendees to wear their masks,” deputy national press secretary Courtney Parella said in a statement.
There has been limited social distancing at previous Trump campaign events, however, and few attendees have been seen wearing masks.
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Dr. Bob Freedland, along with other Wisconsin doctors, stepped up Friday to urge the cancellation of Mr. Trump’s rally, “CBS This Morning: Saturday” reported.
“President Trump’s rallies endanger public health and they have become platforms for him to spread medically inaccurate information,” he said.
Wisconsin Gov.Tony Evers has also expressed concerns.
“Unless something extraordinary happens between now and then, he’ll be encouraging a superspreader event,” Evers said on Thursday, Spectrum News reported. “As governor of the state of Wisconsin I sure would ask him personally, have people wear a mask, have them be physically distant.”
The Associated Press reported that people attending the rally had to park over two miles away and take a shuttle bus to the event.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, slammed Mr. Trump for visiting Wisconsin while the state is “in the grips of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country.”
“President Trump is knowingly downplaying the severity of the virus. At virtually every turn, he has panicked and tried to wish it away, rather than doing the hard work to get it under control,” Biden said in a statement Saturday. “And today, 150,000 fewer Wisconsin workers are employed than when President Trump took office and his failed response to the pandemic has crushed Wisconsin’s economy.”
CBS News’ Grace Segers and Caroline Linton contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)