BALTIMORE — The mayor of Baltimore on Thursday criticized President Donald Trump’s planned visit to the city this Memorial Day weekend, saying the trip will send a conflicting message to residents about stay-at-home directives and cost taxpayers money at a time when revenues are on the decline.
The president and first lady Melania Trump are set to visit Baltimore’s Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine on Monday. The visit is set to come just over a week after Maryland begans to lift some of its stay-at-home restrictions because of the coronavirus, but the directives have not been eased in Baltimore.
“That President Trump is deciding to pursue non-essential travel sends the wrong message to our residents, many of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said in a statement. “I wish that the President, as our nation’s leader, would set a positive example and not travel during this holiday weekend.”
Young, a Democrat, added the city “simply can’t afford to shoulder” the cost of personnel and equipment required by Trump’s visit as the city is still dealing with a loss in revenue of about $20 million a month because of the pandemic.
The White House on Wednesday said the president and first lady will participate in a ceremony “to honor the American heroes who have sacrificed their lives serving in the US Armed Forces.” The hoisting of the American flag after the fort defended Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812 inspired the poem that came to be known as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Trump has sought to ramp up his travel schedule as he looks to demonstrate that the nation is “reopening” after economically devastating shutdowns were put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. The virus has infected more than 1.5 million Americans and cost more than 92,000 U.S. lives.
Maryland reported a total of 43,531 cases of the virus on Thursday, of which 4,339 were tallied in Baltimore. More than 270 people have died of the virus in the city.
Trump last summer referred to a congressional district that includes Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” Months later, he traveled to the city for an appearance at an annual retreat of Congressional Republicans. He did not tour any neighborhoods.