Today's Edition News Sports Obits Digital FAQ Weather Events Contests Classifieds Autos jobs jobs Search
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

SAN LUIS, Arizona (AP) — President Donald Trump visited the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday and tried to credit his new wall with stopping illegal immigration and the coronavirus. But his visit played out as top public health officials in Washington were testifying about the ongoing threat posed by COVID-19, singling out Arizona as one of the states now experiencing a surge in cases.

Trump briefly stopped to inspect a new section of the concrete and rebar structure where the president and other officials took a moment to scrawl their signatures on the wall.

"It stopped COVID, it stopped everything," Trump said.

Trump was looking to regain campaign momentum after his weekend rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was supposed to be a sign of the nation's reopening and a show of political force but instead generated thousands of empty seats and swirling questions about the president's campaign leadership and his case for another four years in office. The low turnout sharpened the focus on Trump's visit to Arizona, which doubles as a 2020 battleground state and a surging coronavirus hot spot.

By visiting the border, Trump sought to change the subject to an issue he believes will help electrify his base in November.

"Our border has never been more secure," Trump declared as he met with Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and federal Border Patrol officials.

The visit came one day after the Trump administration announced it was extending a ban on green cards issued outside the United States until the end of the year and adding some temporary work visas to the freeze, including those used heavily by technology companies and multinational corporations.

"Right now we want jobs going to Americans," Trump said of the move.

Throughout the trip, the COVID-19 pandemic is shadowing Trump. The Democratic mayor of Phoenix made clear she does not believe the speech can be safely held in her city, urging the president to wear a face mask.

Trump has refused to wear a mask in public.

Since late May, Arizona has emerged as one of the nation's most active hot spots for the spread of COVID-19.

Photos of restaurants and bars crowded with unmasked patrons ignited controversy. Ducey, a Trump supporter, reversed himself last week and allowed cities and counties to require people to wear masks in public places. Most have, including Phoenix and Yuma and the counties that surround them.

Arizona is seeing trends in several benchmarks, including the percentage of tests that prove positive for the virus, which is the highest in the nation.

The state reported a new daily record of nearly 3,600 additional coronavirus cases Tuesday as Arizona continued to set records for the number of people hospitalized, in intensive care and on ventilators for COVID-19. Arizona's total caseload in the pandemic stands at least 58,179, with 42 more deaths reported Tuesday, raising the death toll to 1,384.

"Right now, the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surgings that we are seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and other states," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government's top infectious disease expert, told a House committee Tuesday. "They are not the only ones that are having difficulty. Bottom line it's a mixed bag."

Campaign officials stressed that rallies would remain a staple of the president's re-election strategy but allowed that they may, in certain states, need to change slightly. Discussions were under way about having them in more modest venues or outdoors, perhaps in airplane hangars and amphitheaters, or in smaller cities away from protesters.

But officials believe Trump's ability to draw thousands of supporters out during a pandemic sets up a favorable contrasting image with Democratic rival Joe Biden. Still, the campaign has struggled to find effective attack lines on Biden.

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with our commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. Our commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT