Trump's factory tours risk bringing coronavirus 'hot zone' to small towns, experts say

'The White House is a potential hot zone for Covid - aides and valets close to the president are diagnosing positive'

President Donald Trump has refused to say whether he will abide by Ford's rule and wear a face mask to a visit of a factory

Health experts are worried that President Donald Trump's recent visits to American factories may result in small town outbreaks.

Mr Trump has made three trips into battleground states to address concerns related to the pandemic, but he and his staff may be spreading the virus as they travel.

NBC News reported that factory workers who meet with the president during these visits are then required to take rapid coronavirus tests. That practice has become standard for anyone who comes in contact with Mr Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.

Presidential visits include numerous support staff, some of whom stay in local hotels and who eat at local restaurants while doing advance planning prior to the president's visits.

As a result, these people are not only at risk themselves, but also at risk of carrying the disease from one community to the next as Mr Trump makes his stops.

The West Wing has become its own coronavirus hot-spot, with Mr Trump's military valet and another staffer tested positive. Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary Katie Miller also tested positive for the coronavirus. Since then, more White House staff have begun working from home, and Mr Trump and Mr Pence have been separated to limit the chance of both men contracting the virus.

"The White House is a potential hot zone for COVID - aides and valets close to the president are diagnosing positive," Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and global health policy expert told NBC News. "If I'm a factory owner, do I really want a large group of visitors from the West Wing visiting me now under these circumstances, just to snap a few pictures? No."

Spreading the disease to these smaller communities could push already stretched hospital systems beyond their ability to provide effective medical services. In addition to possibly straining local healthcare facilities, presidential visits historically eat up a lot of community resources.

"The impact is real and costly. This is one of the chief reasons Presidents consider the timing of a visit to a disaster area as security and other resources will almost certainly need to be siphoned away from disaster work to support the visit. Airports, roads and event sites all require local resources," Greg Jenkins, director of White House advance operations during the George W Bush administration, told NBC News.

At least one factory - a Braskem factory in Pennsylvania where personal protective equipment is manufactured - asked Mr Trump to postpone his visit over fears that doing so might expose workers to the virus. Mr Trump visited a factory in Allentown, Pennsylvania instead. Mr Trump is scheduled to visit a Ford plant today in Michigan, where he was told by the state's attorney general that, under state law, he would have to wear a mask during his visit, or he wouldn't be invited back.

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