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Candidate Rallies in Nevada Cause Concern For COVID-19 Transmission

A sign outside that says, “Reno Tahoe International Airport,” with a sign beneath it in the grass that says, “RENO,” in large letters.
Trevor Bexon
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Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to hold an in-person campaign event at the Reno-Tahoe International airport on Thursday, Oct. 29.

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to hold an in-person event at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Thursday, sparking COVID-19 concerns as Washoe County sees widespread transmission of the virus.

When President Donald Trump planned his visit to the Reno airport in mid-September, which was ultimately moved to Minden, airport officials informed the hangar tenant that the event would be in violation of a state cap on event attendance.

But this time, the airport has a written agreement from the hangar tenant who’s hosting Pence. It says the state COVID-19 directives will be followed, according to Brian Kulpin, a spokesperson for the airport.

“[The hangar tenant] has signed an agreement that has the directives of the governor stipulated inside of it, talking about masks, talking about social distancing, as well as the 250 cap on people who can be together in a pandemic,” Kulpin said.

If Pence wants to exceed the new limit, he would need a plan approved by state and local health officials.

Scott Oxarart with the Washoe County Health District said he has not received such a plan. While the state has an attendance cap of 250 people, he says the health district is recommending no more than 25 people gather, citing concerns regarding the increase of COVID-19 cases the county has seen.

“Washoe County leads the state in the number of cases, per 100,000 over a 30-day period. It's over 600.”

Nevada is an important swing state this election and President Donald Trump has held three campaign rallies in the state, where thousands of his supporters have packed together, mostly maskeless.

Vice presidential hopeful Kamala Harris also visited Reno Tuesday. About 100 people came, most wearing masks.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

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Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America focusing on community reporting and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local community issues are her passion, including the affordable housing crisis, homelessness, a lack of access to healthcare, protests and challenges facing vulnerable communities in northern Nevada.
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