Rally backed by ‘Trump Train’ held in Salt Lake City as coronavirus cases soar

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Trump supporters scream and yell from the back of a pick-up truck on State Street on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.

Hundreds crowded onto the grounds of Washington Square in Salt Lake City just after dusk Monday for a pro-Trump rally in open defiance of Utah’s prevailing COVID-19 restrictions.

Flag-draped supporters, few of them wearing masks, clustered for the pre-Election Day rally near the west steps of the Salt Lake City and County Building. They were backed by a sympathetic parade of honking SUVs and trucks waving Trump 2020 banners and forming a “Trump Train” that cruised up and down State Street.

Similar motorized pro-Trump caravans — involving thousands of enthusiastic participants, their vehicles festooned with large flags — were also seen in Layton, Logan and St. George on Monday, in a few cases, blocking traffic, according to news reports.

The downtown Salt Lake City rally was reportedly organized by a patchwork of groups including Utah Latino Republicans and Pacific Islanders for Burgess Owens, a Republican candidate for Congress. It drew at least 200 participants on foot to the lawns around City Hall and adjacent streets.

Smaller traffic-side demonstrations sprouted through the evening downtown in favor of the Biden-Harris ticket.

The two-hour event near City Hall saw performers and speakers met with intermittent cheers of “Four more years!” and “God bless our president!” After it broke up around 6:30 p.m., several large groups collected on street corners to wave and interact with motorists, with exchanges often devolving into shouting matches.

Monday’s rally was held only hours after Utah health officials announced the state had reached a coronavirus transmission rate of 19%.

The Utah Department of Health said 348 patients are currently hospitalized due to the virus — topping the record of 342 patients set Sunday. Current health rules limit private gatherings to 10 people and require masks where social distancing isn’t possible.