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President Trump should wear a mask during his visit to Winston-Salem, county Republican says

President Trump should wear a mask during his visit to Winston-Salem, county Republican says

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President Donald Trump should wear a mask during his campaign stop Tuesday in Winston-Salem, says the Republican chairman of Forsyth's county commission. Trump will speak at 7 p.m. at Smith Reynolds Airport, the Trump campaign said. Doors will open at 4 p.m.

Tickets from the Trump campaign are required to attend the event, according to the campaign's website. People may only register for up to two tickets per mobile number. Tickets are available on a first come, first-served basis and can be reserved at www.donaldjtrump.com/events.

Before people can register, they must assume all risks of attending the event related to exposure to COVID and release the Trump campaign and the airport from any liability, the campaign says on its website.

Masks, hand sanitizer and temperature checks will be given to every attendee at the event, a Trump campaign official said. The Trump campaign official didn't answer questions about whether Trump will wear a mask at the event.

Dave Plyler, the Republican chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, says he believes Trump should wear a mask while he is here. 

"It's been ordered by the governor," Plyler said of state's face-covering edict. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in North Carolina, do as the governor says."

Trump, a Republican, is running for re-election against Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee and a former vice president. In late July, Trump publicly supported wearing masks as a way to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, even though he seldom wears a mask in public.

"He (Trump) is a citizen of the United States, but he is also a guest in our county," Plyler said. "Without a mask, he could get sick, and he could blame the governor."

Liberty Street closing Tuesday evening

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., all lanes of traffic on North Liberty Street will be closed between 28th Street and Glenn Avenue, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office said.

Sheriff's deputies and Winston-Salem police will re-route traffic away from Smith Reynolds Airport, and drivers are urged to seek alternate routes.

Sheriff's deputies, city police and Secret Service agents will work together during Trump's visit to Winston-Salem to protect the president and the attendees, said La Shanda Millner, the public relations manager of the sheriff's office.

State's latest measures

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper announced measures last week to relax certain statewide coronavirus-related restrictions, citing recent stabilization in new COVID-19 cases and a slight decline in hospitalizations amid the pandemic.

Cooper said he is adjusting his "safer-at-home" approach from what he called "a modest step" in Phase Two — which began May 22 and was extended three times — to "Phase 2.5."

The latest phase, which began Friday, includes partial indoor reopenings of fitness and sports venues. It expands mass gathering limits from 10 to 25 people indoors and from 25 to 50 outdoors.

Trump campaign officials will decide where the president will deliver his speech at Smith Reynolds Airport, said Mark Davidson, the airport director.

Under Cooper's latest executive order, it is recommended that people maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing. People are also required to wear face coverings in most public venues.

"There is no excuse," Plyler said. "He (Trump) just needs to do it."

It will be appropriate for the president to remove his mask when he delivers his speech Tuesday, Plyler said. However, the president wearing a mask will set the right example for other people, Plyler said.

Plyler has a medical appointment at Wake Forest Baptist Medical earlier on Tuesday and said he likely will not attend Trump's campaign event at the airport.

But Plyler said he's pleased that Trump is visiting Winston-Salem.

"You honor the office — whether you agree with President Trump or if you disagree with him," Plyler said. "His office is the highest office in the land, and that needs to be respected.

"The office of the president is probably the most prestigious office in the world," Plyler said. "I respect it, and I'm glad he's coming. If you are going to be a citizen of the United States, respect the office and the man that holds it." 

N.C. important for Trump in 2020

Aaron Berlin, the chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party, said in a statement that local Republicans are excited to welcome Trump to Winston-Salem.

"North Carolina is an important state for him to win this year," Berlin said. "I will definitely attend the event and am confident we will see the same enthusiasm and results for the president we saw in 2016."

Four years ago, Trump, who was then the Republican presidential nominee, visited the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex on a campaign stop. 

"President Trump has come to North Carolina more frequently and spent more time with North Carolinians than our own governor," Berlin said. "Gov. Cooper has shown North Carolinians time and time again that he does not care about the small business owners across the state. Both President Trump and (Republican gubernatorial candidate and Lt. Governor) Dan Forest will open up businesses and have our economy booming."

Austin Cook, a spokesman for the N.C. Democratic Party, issued a statement Friday about Trump's visit to Winston-Salem.

"More than 170,000 people in our state have contracted COVID-19, and holding a full-scale rally like this shows just how little Donald Trump cares about those North Carolinians and the thousands of others who have lost loved ones to this virus," Cook said. "Trump’s blasé attitude towardsthis health crisis is putting North Carolina families at risk, and it’s exactly why he’s failed to contain the coronavirus across our country.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also issued a statement Monday night about Trump's visit to North Carolina, criticizing Trump amid the coronavirus pandemic and the lingering economic turmoil.

"In the past week, nearly 10,000 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported in North Carolina and close to 200 North Carolinians have died due to the virus," Biden said. "Since the middle of March, more than 1.2 million North Carolinians have filed for unemployment benefits, and the state’s unemployment rate shot up in July to nearly double what it was last year.

"Yet today, North Carolinians will not hear President Trump discuss how he plans to get this virus under control, nor will they hear plans to safely restart our economy or provide much-needed relief to struggling workers, parents, and small business owners," Biden said.

People can see Air Force One approach and land at the airport from Winston Lake Park and along New Walkertown Road, Carver School Road and North Liberty Street.

"It's exciting no matter what your political affiliation is," Davidson said. "When it (Air Force One) breaks through the clouds, it's pretty exciting to see."


PHOTOS: When Trump came to Winston-Salem in 2016

PHOTOS: Presidents who visited Winston-Salem through the decades

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@jhintonWSJ

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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