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Baltimore Mayor Young says Pence, Trump flouted his order limiting gatherings due to coronavirus

A mostly maskless crowd listens Wednesday as Vice President Mike Pence addresses the Republican National Convention from Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
A mostly maskless crowd listens Wednesday as Vice President Mike Pence addresses the Republican National Convention from Fort McHenry in Baltimore. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)

Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said Thursday that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence openly disregarded his executive order — designed to minimize the spread of the coronavirus — by appearing at Fort McHenry before more than 25 guests.

Pence accepted the Republican nomination to seek a second term Wednesday in an outdoor space at the historic fort. Trump paid a surprise visit to support his running mate during the Baltimore portion of the third night of the Republican National Convention.

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“It is the height of hypocrisy for this self-proclaimed law-and-order president and vice president to flout my lawful executive order, dated Aug. 7, 2020, intended to keep our residents safe during what continues to be a raging pandemic that they have politicized and failed to control,” Young, a Democrat, said in a statement.

About 100 invited guests sat in folding chairs positioned roughly 3 feet apart. Audience members had their temperatures taken on the way in, but few wore masks. After the program ended, people surged toward the stage to greet Trump, Pence and their wives.

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Young’s order limits indoor and outdoor gatherings to “no more than 25″ people, who must be adequately distanced from one another. The recommended minimum spacing is 6 feet, both indoors and outdoors, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Young also criticized Pence’s use of the fort, a National Park Service property, for a campaign event.

“This (Trump) administration has seized every opportunity to exploit the challenges of our city and fan the flames of division, never once demonstrating the will or desire to partner with us in rooting out the lingering effects of systemic racism,” the mayor said. “Instead, they use one of our greatest assets — the historic Fort McHenry national shrine — as a prop to continue their distortions of fact, in favor of a fictionalized narrative of what we all know is failed leadership.”

Trump campaign officials did not immediately respond Thursday evening to requests for comment.

Pence said during his speech that Trump “saved an untold number of American lives” from COVID-19 by suspending travel from China.

Democrats have said the president has sent mixed messages about the seriousness of the virus and failed to develop a comprehensive plan to control it.

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