Outgoing President Donald Trump’s mid-December call for a massive ‘stop the steal’ rally in Washington D.C. on January 6th was permitted for 30,000 people in the nation’s Capitol, revised up from 5,000 during a covid-19 pandemic with more contagious strains circulating the globe. There was a massive crowd turnout as indicated in photos below.
The risk that January 6 would be a covid-19 super spreading event was clear, with Stanford researchers estimating that past Trump rallies combined were responsible for some 30,000 covid-19 cases and 700 deaths, with many not attending the rally infected by those at the rally.1 On January 6 estimates put the Capitol area rally at 30,000 people plus, with Trump supporters known to resist containment measures such as masks in the past.
A review of some photos of the event suggests that social distancing was often not honored. Chanting, yelling, singing, breaching barriers, and fighting would create a pall of human exhalations and contacts. Those infected with covid-19 would have added to the total respiratory, fluid, and direct contact output. This was foreseeable by the President and his cabinet.
The President pushed the rally knowing more transmissible covid19 strains were moving. By creating such a super spreader event the President would knowingly tax the governing, economic, and health care sectors across the country already struggling with spikes in covid-19 hospital admissions.
1 Bernheim, B. Douglas, Nina Buchmann, Zach Freitas-Groff, and Sebastián Otero. “The Effects of Large Group Meetings on the Spread of COVID-19: The Case of Trump Rallies.” SSRN, December 18, 2020. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3722299.