LATROBE, Pa. — A crowd of about 7,000 people gathered at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe Thursday night to watch President Donald Trump’s speech ahead of the November elections.
The airport estimated that 5,000 people were on the field and inside the event -- with an extra 2,000 surrounding the airport and 900 of those estimated to be sitting in the hangar when the president spoke.
Thousands of people were shuttled in, standing to watch Trump’s 90 minute speech. The majority of those in attendance were not wearing face masks or within six feet of each other, so why was it allowed to go on?
Gabe Monzo, executive director of the airport, told Channel 11 his staff of about 20 handled logistics of the event -- not mitigation measures.
“As far as the governor’s rules, that’s the campaign. That’s not us. That’s up to them,” Monzo said. “If there was an issue with that, that’s something we don’t deal with. We don’t enforce. If you tell me 5,000 are coming, we prepare for it.”
Gov. Tom Wolf’s office responded to the large number of people in attendance, saying officials were not contacted or asked for permission to break the mandate. The full statement from the governor’s office is below:
“The commonwealth did not make an exception for the Trump rally. The organizers neither sought nor received permission to violate the gathering restrictions. The administration plans to reach out to remind the Trump campaign about Pennsylvania’s mitigation measures.
Per the Process to Reopen PA, outdoor gatherings of more than 250 are prohibited, and masks are required in all public places. Masking and social distancing measures, including the limitations on large gatherings, have allowed Pennsylvania to thus far avoid the tragic resurgence of COVID-19 that is occurring in many states that have reopened prematurely. We hope and expect that the President and those attending rallies will abide by these commonsense restrictions to protect the health and safety of Pennsylvanians, and are disappointed to hear that the organizers may have disregarded the health and safety of Pennsylvanians by disregarding these measures.”
The Trump campaign has not responded regarding this issue.
Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli (D) sent Channel 11 a statement as well following the rally: “It’s a slap in the face for our local economy and schools. We need our small businesses and schools to stay open. I hope that the thousands of individuals that attended do not result in a spike in cases and they do not bring COVID home to their families.”
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