Rock County officials call for caution ahead of rescheduled Trump visit

JANESVILLE, Wis. – The Rock County Sheriff’s Office is working with the U.S. Secret Service ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump Saturday at the same time county officials are calling on those who plan to attend to take precautions.

Sheriff Troy Knudson said the event would take place at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport just like the canceled rally two Saturdays ago had been set to, but said he didn’t have many other details.

“A visit from a sitting president of the U.S. is a major incident for any agency,” he said, adding that they’re partnering with other local law enforcement agencies, as well. “It gets to be an interesting job trying to coordinate all the activities. Communications is a big thing. Luckily, having done this a number of times, we’ve worked out a routine this way.”

The timing and format of the upcoming visit isn’t clear, but a fundraiser invitation shows donations begin at $1,000 for a VIP pre-speech reception and Make America Great Again event in Janesville.

Before the rally scheduled for Oct. 3, the Rock County Board of Supervisors asked the Trump campaign to cancel as COVID-19 spiked. That event was called off when Trump himself tested positive less than 48 hours before it was scheduled to begin.

“We did have some concerns and conversations about if the timing had been off, there probably would have been more national attention to Rock County if that had happened,” County Administrator Josh Smith said. “We’re thankful it didn’t happen here and equally hopeful it doesn’t in the future.”

This time around, Smith said they’re not actively asking the campaign to cancel, saying they’re confident the campaign and public are aware of their concerns. Instead, they’re shifting their focus to encouraging sanitizing, mask wearing and physical distancing to those who choose to attend.

“In the last week we’ve seen highs in our positivity rate, in the number of positive tests coming back and total number of tests,” he said. “So, it’s a high time with regard to the pandemic.”

“While we really appreciate having a president come to our jurisdiction, our community, at the same time, right now, we’ve had a high number of coronavirus cases here in the community,” Knudson said. “I seriously hope anyone who would attend an event like this would follow safety protocols to try and protect themselves and the community.”

News 3 Now reached out to both the Democratic and Republican Parties of Rock County to gauge their reactions, but neither were able to provide an interview.