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Trump to campaign in Tucson as polls show Arizona in play

While polls show Arizona tipping toward his Democratic rival Joe Biden, President Donald Trump will take a whirlwind tour of Arizona airports next week, as he holds rallies in Prescott and Tucson on Monday.

Trump had planned to visit Tucson on October 5, but the campaign was forced to cancel the event after the president contracted COVID-19. Less than two weeks after his diagnosis, and a weekend at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the president has gone back to campaigning with live events in battleground states.

The Republican will hold a campaign stop at Tucson International Airport on Monday afternoon.

For months, polls have shown former Vice President Joe Biden leading in Arizona, making a once reliably Republican bastion a swing state in the election. Arizona's 11 Electoral College votes could be a factor in determining the winner. 

A new poll released Thursday by Monmouth University shows Biden leading Trump by six points, 50 percent to 44 percent. Since mid-September, Biden has lead Trump in all but two polls, running between one and seven percentage points higher than the president. Trump won Arizona by just under 4 percent points in 2016, and the state was a relatively easy pickup for Mitt Romney in 2012 who won with about 9 percent of the vote. The last time the state's electoral college votes went to a Democrat was in 1996 when Bill Clinton won the state during his reelection. 

On Sunday, Trump will hold a rally at the airport near Carson City, Nev., and then on Monday Trump will head to Arizona. Trump will visit Prescott at the city's airport, and then he will fly to Tucson, where he will hold a rally at Tucson International Airport. 

Trump's trip follows an event Wednesday, in which his son, Donald Trump Jr. came to Tucson, joined by Sen. Martha McSally. And, Trump's vice president, Mike Pence, came to Tucson in August. 

Attendees for the Republican candidate's rally in Tucson must sign up online. The doors for the rally will open at noon, and the rally is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. 

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The registration form for Trump's rally requires attendees to agree to not sue his campaign if they contract coronavirus: "By registering for this event, you understand and expressly acknowledge that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. In attending the event, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19, and waive, release, and discharge Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; the host venue; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers from any and all liability under any theory, whether in negligence or otherwise, for any illness or injury."

The campaign said that all attendees will be given a temperature check, masks "they are instructed to wear," and access to hand sanitizer. 

Trump's campaign rallies have often concerned public-health officials, and data shows that following his rallies in seven out of 14 cities, the number of COVID-19 cases spiked, Stat News reported. 

This includes a campaign rally in Phoenix, and a rally in Tulsa, Okla., where former presidential candidate Herman Cain likely contracted the disease. Cain, the co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, attended the Tulsa rally without a mask, and died from the disease less than two weeks later.

Trump himself may have contracted the virus during a White House event, which reportedly infected more than two dozen people, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who said he spent seven days in an ICU. 

Even as the presidential election heads into its last remaining weeks, the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow in Arizona, and the state's infection rate has increased since mid-September. On Friday, Arizona officials reported 738 new new diagnosed infections, and 17 additional deaths. Overall, more than 5,800 Arizonans have died from the disease, and public health officials have confirmed 229,486 cases. 

In Pima County, 633 people have died since the infection hit the state, and officials have recorded 26,769 cases, including 42 new cases on Friday. 

While Gov. Doug Ducey has issued a public health executive order that bans gathering of more than 50 people to stem the spread of COVID-19, there is  an exemption for "constitutionally protected activities," so will not be enforced against those attending the rally, Pima County authorities have said. 

However, Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen has "strongly encourages anyone attending any gathering of any kind practice physical distancing and wear a mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19."

Pima County is covered by an emergency public health order that requires face covering be worn when physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Then-candidate for president Donald Trump during a Tucson campaign stop in March 2016.