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Trump plans outdoor rally even as US coronavirus cases surge

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is planning an outdoor rally in New Hampshire on Saturday, the campaign's second in the coronavirus era after one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month that failed to draw the crowds his advisers predicted.

Polls show him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee, former vice-president Joe Biden, ahead of the Nov 3 election.

Mr Trump's campaign said the rally would be held at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease and hand sanitisers and face masks would be provided.

In a separate development, US Sun Belt mayors warned that their cities are at risk of being overwhelmed as they pushed back against Mr Trump's attempt to minimise the gravity of the surge.

Florida has registered 10,000 new cases on some days, Arizona has seen record hospitalisations, and intensive care units in Houston, Texas, are operating near maximum capacity.

With Mr Trump continuing to play down the disease - eschewing a mask, continuing to address large gatherings, saying a vaccine is only months away and asserting that "99 per cent" of cases are not serious - the exasperation of local officials has begun to boil over.

Mixed messages from US leaders have been a problem, Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Arizona, told ABC's This Week.

"President Trump was in my community, chose not to wear a mask, and he is having large events while I am trying to push people" to stay home and avoid crowds, said the Democrat.

Once Arizona began reopening its economy, she said: "We had crowded nightclubs handing out free Champagne, no masks."

The number of fatalities in the state has crossed the 1,800-mark - more than six times the toll in South Korea. - REUTERS, AFP

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