As the crowd of nearly 2,000 people started to assemble on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday to watch President Donald Trump close out the Republican National Convention, CNN’s Jake Tapper warned that America might be watching a “potential super-spreader event” in action.
“You remember a few weeks ago when President Trump finally wore a mask and so many people in the White House and in the health community breathed a sigh of relief,” Tapper said as CNN’s countdown clock approached the start of the final night. “Finally, we were going to get a good example set by the president. Well, I’ve been talking to health officials across the country who are just abjectly mortified by what they’re seeing from the South Lawn, which looks like a potential super-spreader event.”
Tapper went on to quote a doctor from the Harvard Global Health Institute who told him, “This is deeply irresponsible. It goes against all we know about keeping people safe. We should expect better from our national leaders.”
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the “overwhelming majority of attendees at tonight’s South Lawn convention speech will not be tested for the novel coronavirus,” according to campaign and convention officials. That comports with the scene at Fort McHenry the previous evening when Vice President Mike Pence fist-bumped with a tightly packed crowd that had not been universally tested after his speech.
“The idea that 2,000 individuals with no mass testing, no social distancing, very few of them wearing masks, coming together. Forget the Hatch Act violations, we’re getting into a matter of life and death here,” Tapper added. “It’s really alarming. And I have to say that the idea of this happening while this pandemic is going on, and the president and the White House are trying to convince us that it isn’t, is just otherworldly.”
The anchor concluded by highlighting the fact that from the time the Republican National Convention began on Monday until 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, 3,688 Americans have died from COVID-19. “Just since the Republican Convention began, we have had more losses due to this virus than were lost due to 9/11,” he said.