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Indoor rally a reckless event

We know from reporter Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” that last spring, when the coronavirus pandemic was spreading across the United States, President Trump was aware that it posed a grave threat. Still, he lied to the public frequently and unforgivably, saying the virus would just go away. Yet it may be even less forgivable that now, six months later, Mr. Trump is still lying and still denying the reality of the virus. His campaign rally Sunday in Nevada is clear evidence.

Thousands of Mr. Trump’s supporters crowded into a manufacturing hall in Henderson, a Las Vegas suburb, most of them forgoing face masks and not socially distanced, violating Nevada’s pandemic rules limiting social gatherings to 50 people or fewer. Mr. Trump’s supporters were crammed together on white folding chairs on the floor of the Xtreme Manufacturing plant for his first indoor rally since June 20 in Tulsa. Face masks were mandatory only for those standing directly behind Mr. Trump, who would be in the television shot.

Beyond any doubt, the coronavirus transmits from person to person. An enclosed space, with people shouting, has frequently led to outbreaks: a choir practice, a wedding, a summer camp and cruise ships, to name a few. The Nevada rally was a potential superspreader event, led by the president in pursuit of political gain. He has refused to wear a face mask on the campaign trail and has belittled the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, for wearing one.

Mr. Trump’s rhetoric was also disconnected from the reality of a nation still staggering under the pandemic wave, with at least 191,000 people killed and 6.5 million infected. “We will very easily defeat the China virus,” Mr. Trump sunnily declared. “That’s what’s happening. And we’re already making that turn. We’re making that round beautiful last turn, but it should have never happened.”

Mr. Trump plays a huckster’s game, thinking he can fool enough of the people all of the time. The clock is running out on this gambit. The nation is long past his misplaced bravado and happy talk. Behind it lies reckless abandon with people’s health and well-being.

* Guest editorial from The Washington Post in Washington, D.C.

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