One of the passengers supposed to join the president, Republican Louie Gohmert, tested positive during a pre-flight check at the White House. The state Trump is visiting has seen an increase in the number of cases, forcing the Republican governor to reimpose certain restrictions in an attempt to contain the virus.
Trump had hoped to use his visit to West Texas to highlight his track record in reducing regulations, encouraging investment in energy infrastructure and promoting U.S. energy production – all while working to secure votes in a state he won decisively in 2016 but where polls now show limited competition with former Vice President Joe Biden.
But the realities of the pandemic still linger even as Trump encourages states to reopen and undermines health experts in his administration.
In Texas, Trump is due to make remarks on a Double Eagle Energy oil rig touting his administration’s energy policies. The company is one of the largest crude oil and natural gas operations in the Permian Basin.
Like all events he attends, attendees who come close to Trump will likely be tested for the coronavirus. Texas has seen an increase in cases, placing it near the top of the states in the number of confirmed cases.
Trump’s handling of the coronavirus response has driven his poll numbers down, including in Texas. A statewide poll from Quinnipiac University released last week showed Biden and Trump were at an impasse, even though Trump won Texas by 9 points in 2016.
To counter this slide, Trump aides recently attempted to recalibrate his approach, relaunching daily White House briefings and persuading Trump to promote mask-wearing and social distancing.
But he continues to tout unproven theories and undermine some of the administration’s health experts, including promoting an antimalarial that has not been shown to be effective against the coronavirus.
One of the people who has supported Trump in his efforts to promote hydroxychloroquine is his former White House doctor, Dr. Ronny Jackson, who is currently running for Congress in Texas. During his campaign, he played down the need to wear masks.
Trump is expected to see Jackson in Texas on Wednesday.