Alabama city braces for large Trump rally amid COVID-19 related state of emergency


CULLMAN, Ala. (WIAT) — For the first time in nearly two years, former President Donald Trump will return to Alabama.

On Saturday, a rally will be held at York Farms in Cullman, with Trump set to take the stage at 7 p.m. The event will feature several vendors, music, and speakers who will take the stage before Trump. Organizers estimate that the rally will open its gates at 2 p.m. and draw about 40,000 people to the area.

On Friday, there were already several people who were first in line for the rally.

“Many of us know each other from many previous rallies,” said Richard Snowden, known as ‘The Mayor’ of Trump rallies. “There are people who I’ve been with at 10 or 15 rallies across the country. It’s almost like ‘home week,’ we get together and have fun.”

Trump’s visit comes at the same time as a surge in COVID-19 cases in the area. Within the first five days of the school year, there were 400 COVID-19 cases reported in Cullman County Schools. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, there have been 272 COVID-19 cases reported in Cullman County within the last week.

Like every hospital across Alabama, Cullman Regional Medical Center is currently out of ICU beds due to the surge in cases.

“We view this as a potential ‘superspreader’ event, just like last week’s Rock the South that was [at the same location] last weekend,” said Dr. William Smith, chief medical officer for Cullman Regional. “We’ve seen an increase in patients since that event last weekend, and we’re concerned we could see the same impact.”

On Thursday, the Cullman City Council declared a state of emergency due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Regarding the rise of COVID-19 cases statewide, Waid Harbison of the Cullman County Republican Party said those interested in coming out should make the best decision for their family.

Harbison said the business impact the rally is expected to bring would represent a lot to the Cullman community.

“This will be exposure really on a national level,” Harbison said. “We are expecting people from out of state to come. I think our hotels are pretty much filled up the last time I had checked. Anytime we can bring anything to Cullman, it helps our local businesses, our restaurant, our retail stores, and everything like that.”

For those deciding to attend the rally, Dr. Smith said precautions you can take to prevent catching or spreading COVID-19 at the rally.

“I think the most important thing is to have had a vaccine,” Smith said. “If you haven’t, it’s a little late for this event. Wearing a mask is a very good mitigation. Wearing masks — socially distancing is good, but in a crowd, it’s unrealistic to think that’ll occur. But wearing a mask clearly reduces the signs of infection.”

Attendees like Snowden said they were not worried about the virus.

“[COVID-19] doesn’t factor in,” he said. “In my opinion, it is really a glorified different strain of the flu. If you take care of yourself, for the most part, you’ll be okay.”

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The last time Trump was in Alabama was November 9, 2019, when he and former First Lady Melania Trump went to Tuscaloosa to watch the Crimson Tide play LSU.

The following items will not be allowed at the rally, per instructions from the Secret Service:

  • Aerosols
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Appliances (i.e. Toasters)
  • Backpacks, bags, roller bags, suitcases bags exceeding size restrictions (12”x14”x5”)
  • Balloons
  • Balls (e.g. footballs, tennis balls, baseballs, etc.)
  • Banners, signs, placards
  • Chairs (including folding chairs)
  • Coolers
  • Drones and other unmanned aircraft systems
  • E-Cigarettes
  • Explosives of any kind (including fireworks)
  • Firearms
  • Glass, thermal and metal containers
  • Knives (of any kind)
  • Laser lights and laser pointers
  • Mace and/or pepper spray
  • Noisemakers, such as air horns, whistles, drums, bullhorns, etc.
  • Packages
  • Poles, sticks, and selfie sticks
  • Spray containers
  • Structures
  • Supports for signs/placards
  • Tripods
  • Umbrellas
  • Weapons
  • And any other items that may pose a threat to the security of the event as determined by and at the discretion of the security screeners.

Those wanting to attend the rally must have a ticket, which is free and can be received here.

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