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South Dakota will not require social distancing or people to wear masks when Donald Trump visits Mount Rushmore for the Independence Day celebration there, despite case numbers in the U.S. spiking recently.

'We will have a large event at July 3rd,' South Dakota's Republican Governor Kristi Noem told Fox News Monday night.

'We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we'll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we will not be social distancing,' Noem continued in her interview with the 'The Ingraham Angle.'

The instructions, or lack thereof, from Noem comes as doctors urged Jacksonville, Florida to cancel the Republican National Committee Convention there in August.

'Unfortunately, for some, a face mask has become a political statement,' the doctor's claimed in their Monday letter. 'This is irrational and meant to sow division. The enemy is this virus, not each other. There are ways of encouraging compliance short of making it a criminal offense, and it's working in hundreds of cities worldwide.'

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said Monday evening that people will not be required to wear masks or social distance during Donald Trump's visit and remarks to Mount Rushmore for the July 4 celebration on Friday

The lack of coronavirus restrictions comes as the U.S. sees a spike in cases, but South Dakota remains minimally affected

They also claimed in the letter, which was signed by hundreds of physicians, that 'It is extremely dangerous and contrary to current public health recommendations to stage a large event in an area where the number of cases is surging.'

'The RNC should be postponed or very significantly reduced in numbers because of these risks,' the doctors urged.

Jacksonville City imposed an order Monday evening requiring all people to wear masks at indoor locations, or areas where social distancing is impossible – like the beach.

The order in Northern Florida comes as Trump prepares to travel there for the convention later this summer.

The president has still refused to wear a mask and has never been seen publicly donning a face covering – even though many members of his administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, have started sporting the look in public. 

Charlotte, North Carolina was the original host city for the Republican convention, but Trump and the RNC asserted the location be moved to Florida to allow for the crowd the president desired for his renomination coronation speech.

The mandate in Jacksonville came as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the state as it reopened and experienced several record-high infection days in a row.

Trump will travel to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial sculpture in Keystone, South Dakota on Friday, more than a month before the convention and the day before July 4th, where he will deliver remarks at the Independence Day celebration.

Attendance for the event 'will be limited' to 7,500 people – according to the state's travel website with details for the event – amid a nationwide resurgence of coronavirus infection numbers.

'Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they're comfortable with,' Noem told Fox News host Laura Ingraham Monday as state officials say the people of South Dakota should 'focus on personal responsibility.'

While there will be no requirements for attendees to wear masks or social distance, the National Park Service says on the website: 'We ask the public to be our partner in adopting social distancing practices when visiting parks.'

South Dakota, with a population of 884,659, is one of the states that has been least affected by coronavirus, with only 807 active cases.

The state has seen 6,716 positive cases of coronavirus of the more than 2.6 million positive cases across the U.S., which is about 0.0025 per cent of the total cases nationwide.

Less than 100 people have died in South Dakota from the disease.

Florida is a different story.

As of Sunday, there were nearly 150,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida, and more than 3,400 deaths.

On June 26, the state saw an increase of nearly 4,000 new cases from the day before.

Many areas of the state, especially those with large cities, have begun slowing down reopening and even reimposing some previous restrictions to lessen the case increase.

The Republican convention will be held in the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which has a capacity of 15,000 and so far there is no indication that number will be limited.

Doctors, in their letter demanding the event be canceled, noted: 'It is estimated that more than 40,000 people, including the press and protestors, will attend from all over the US.'

News Source: dailymail.co.uk

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Mexican President Visits US With Focus on Trade  

WHITE HOUSE - President Donald Trump welcomed Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to the White House on Wednesday for meetings on trade, the economy and immigration, days after a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal among the two countries and Canada went into effect.   

"The relationship between the U.S. and Mexico has never been closer than it is right now," Trump said before the two leaders signed a joint declaration in the Rose Garden that "recognizes the advancements our two countries have achieved toward a renewed and strengthened partnership equipped to the 21st-century economic and security challenges of our North American region.” 

FILE - Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a news conference in Ottawa, Canada on July 6, 2020.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to attend the meeting to commemorate USMCA, citing a busy schedule and the inappropriateness of international travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Trump said the U.S. is home to 36 million Mexican Americans and that they make up a "big percentage" of small-business owners. 

"They're like you — they're tough negotiators and great businesspeople, Mr. President,” Trump told the Mexican leader.  

The leftist Mexican president, often referred to by his initials, AMLO, has brushed off domestic criticism for meeting Trump, who is widely disliked in Mexico because of past disparaging remarks about Mexicans and his stance on immigration.  

Lopez Obrador’s government sees this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of USMCA and has tried to distance the visit from topics related to immigration.   

“It is very important for us to be launching this new agreement," Lopez Obrador said through a translator. “But I also wanted to be here to thank the people of the United States, its government. And thank you, President Trump, for being increasingly respectful with our Mexican fellow men.”

In his remarks, Lopez Obrador quoted George Washington, the first U.S. president, who said, “Nations should not take advantage of the unfortunate condition of other people.” Lopez Obrador said Trump has “followed” Washington’s “wise advice.”  

Some analysts have noted that Trump has used America’s tremendous economic leverage, including threats of tariffs and even a total border closing, to pressure the Mexican leader on issues of trade and immigration.  

Mexico functions as a “hinge” between the United States and the asylum-seeker origin countries of Central America, said Maria Fernanda Perez Arguello, associate director at the Atlantic Council. “Immigration from Central America — and the push factors in the countries — is the big elephant in the room between AMLO and Trump,” she said.  

This was Lopez Obrador’s first meeting with Trump and the second visit to the White House by a foreign leader since the coronavirus shutdown in March. Like Trump, Lopez Obrador has downplayed the risks of the coronavirus and said he has never been tested for COVID-19 because he has no symptoms and will take a test only if the White House requires it.   

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a meeting at the White House, in Washington, July 8, 2020.

Deputy press secretary Judd Deere said that all members of the Mexican delegation, including the president, were tested for COVID-19 and that the tests were administered by the White House. 

Speaking to reporters in Mexico City before his departure Tuesday, Lopez Obrador repeatedly said in response to questions about raising issues such as immigration policy that his focus in the talks would be on the trade deal.  

“It is always important that there be cooperation for development. But now in a circumstance of global economic crisis, this treaty is going to help us a lot. It is very timely,” Lopez Obrador said.  

He noted the economic challenges facing Mexico, like those in many other countries during the coronavirus pandemic, and stressed the need for Mexico to have good relations with its neighbor.  

The Mexican leader noted the agenda for bilateral talks included other topics, and on those, his delegation — which included Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon and Economic Secretary Graciela Marquez Colín — would not take a confrontational approach, but rather try to have a dialogue of understanding with their U.S. counterparts.    

The USMCA updated the 1990s North American Free Trade Agreement and was a major policy push for Trump, who cast the former trade deal as harmful to U.S. businesses and workers.  

The pact includes new laws related to intellectual property protection, the internet, currencies, investment and state-owned enterprises. The new legislation includes more stringent rules on auto manufacturing, e-commerce and labor provisions, but leaves largely unchanged the trade flows among the North American countries valued at $1.2 trillion a year.   

In addition to private talks between Trump and Lopez Obrador and wider meetings with their advisers, the two leaders attended a dinner Wednesday night with business leaders from both countries.   

Before going to the White House, Lopez Obrador visited the Lincoln Memorial and a statue of former Mexican President Benito Juarez in Washington.

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