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Trump holds Janesville rally as Rock County COVID-19 cases surge

JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- Thousands lined up to go to President Donald Trump's rally Saturday evening in Janesville, but many disregarded COVID-19 precautions at the same time cases are spiking in the area.

Though staff were handing out masks and supporters had to wear one in order to ride the buses that shuttled people between parking and the rally site, many Trump supporters didn't wear masks and almost no one maintained physical distancing.

Bill Atkins drove up from Illinois to attend the rally. He said he doesn't think the virus poses a real threat and he is less concerned after Trump got sick.

"I think there's a cure coming," he said. "The elderly can get it and live, so I think that they should reopen everything."

But not everyone on their way to the rally was as cavalier about the disease that has killed more than 218,000 Americans, including more than 1,500 Wisconsinites.

"We are encouraging people to protect themselves, but we also want to show our support for this president," supporter Eva Neterowicz said.

The rally comes two weeks after Trump had to cancel a planned rally because he tested positive for COVID-19.

Now, Rock County is seeing record daily case increases.

On October 5, the county had 2,860 total cases. On Friday, it had 3,828 total cases. That means a quarter of Rock County's total coronavirus cases have been recorded in the past 13 days.

The Rock County Public Health Department said this trend is worrying.

"We are very concerned about the increase in numbers and are currently discouraging gatherings of any type," Jessica Turner, RCPHD communications specialist, said. "Any type of gathering presents the potential for spread of the virus. We hope that anyone who does choose to attend a gathering does so in the safest manner possible, taking precautions to keep themselves and others safe."

Neterowicz said she would wear her mask and face shield at all times, but she said she recognizes not everyone will make the same decision.

"Nothing is mandatory," she said. "People can choose whatever they want to do. I myself choose masks. I myself choose shields. Everybody has the same privilege."

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