President Donald Trump will travel to Pennsylvania on Thursday to visit a Lehigh Valley medical equipment distributor as he calls on the state to loosen its coronavirus restrictions and allow businesses to reopen.
Trump’s trip to the Owens & Minor Inc. factory in Upper Macungie Township, just outside of Allentown, will be his second major trip outside the White House since March, when much of the country shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A White House spokesperson said the president is expected to deliver remarks on coronavirus testing.
“Looking forward to being in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Thursday. I love the State, and for very good reason!” Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning.
According to his public schedule, Trump is scheduled to arrive at Lehigh Valley International Airport at 1:05 p.m., and will tour the distribution center at 1:45 p.m. He’s expected to deliver remarks around 2:15 p.m. before returning to the White House.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday the White House didn’t notify his administration of Trump’s plan to visit the commonwealth, but said “anybody is welcome to visit the state.”
Wolf said he would “urge anybody coming to Pennsylvania to respect our efforts to stay safe, to keep people safe.” The president routinely does not wear a mask in public, and Pennsylvania is under a statewide order that essential businesses must require all employees and customers wear masks.
“I hope he does everything in his power to keep employees safe, the business executives safe, any customers who might be on site,” Wolf said. “Pennsylvania has always been a state that welcomes visitors, and we’ll continue to do that no matter who it is.”
The trip comes after a proposed visit to a Delaware County factory, in which workers lived for weeks to manufacture personal protective equipment, was called off after the plant’s operators voiced concerns about health risks, according to the Washington Post.
In recent days, the president has been pushing governors to reopen their economies faster, even though many don’t meet the reopening guidelines from his own coronavirus task force. Anthony Fauci, a member of the task force and the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, warned Congress on Tuesday against reopening too quickly.
Trump singled out Pennsylvania on Monday, writing on Twitter, “The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails.” He also called on states like Pennsylvania to move faster in loosening restrictions at a White House news conference.
“If you look at Pennsylvania as an example, if you look at various other states, I won’t get into them, the people want to go back,” Trump said. “The numbers are getting to a point where they can, and there just seems to be no effort on certain blue states to get back into gear, and the people aren’t going to stand for it. They want our country open, I want our country open, too, I want it open safely, but I want it open.”
The president, whose handling of the coronavirus has received consistently poor marks in polls, is counting on a rapid economic rebound to fire his reelection chances. In visiting the Allentown area, he is coming to a swing area of a swing state that both parties see as vital in the 2020 presidential campaign.
The state has also seen growing unrest over whether Wolf’s stay-at-home orders are too strict and inflicting unnecessary economic harm, or are required to stem the virus’ spread.
Wolf rejected the idea of loosening restrictions too quickly, calling those pushing to restart the economy “selfish and unsafe.”
“I don’t know how you stay safe and move quickly,” Wolf said. “We’re trying to move deliberately.”
Staff writers Jonathan Tamari and Anna Orso contributed to this article.