Trump’s Jacksonville convention was a science denier’s dream … and doomed from the start

When Trump first made the announcement, Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is situated, was averaging 188 new cases a day, as The Washington Post‘s Philip Bump points out. At the same time, Jacksonville’s Duval County was posting just 27 new cases a day. A little over a month earlier, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, had famously flown to Washington and bragged about his state defeating the virus against the backdrop of the White House.

“We’ve succeeded,” DeSantis told reporters on May 20, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, “and I think that people just don’t want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative, it challenges their assumption.”

That was then. On Thursday, Trump abruptly canceled the Jacksonville rally as the city’s new daily case counts surged past those in Charlotte, where state and local authorities have been emphasizing social distancing guidelines and mask-wearing.

This month, Duval County has consistently logged seven-day averages of new cases that surpass 500, while Mecklenburg County has been averaging 320. The Post‘s Bump included this helpful graph showing the reversal of fortunes for the two counties since June.

Graph showing the trend lines for new case counts in Charlotte and Jacksonville inverting over the course of the last couple months. Jacksonville started in the single digits and now averages more than 500 new cases a day, while Charlotte began a bit below 150 and now averages some 300 new cases a day.

And get this: “Cases in Charlotte’s home county are up 62 percent since the announcement. Cases in Jacksonville’s are up more than 1,900 percent,” writes Bump. 

Jacksonville did implement a mask mandate shortly before new cases began spiking, but it doesn’t exist in a bubble and Gov. DeSantis has repeatedly declined to issue a statewide mask mandate even as the state’s cases have soared to record-setting levels nationally. In North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statewide mask order on June 26.

A new poll out Thursday showed DeSantis’ approval rating on the coronavirus plunging by double digits to 38%. Trump can keep him company there since several recent polls put him in almost the exact same dismal place on the pandemic.