A few days ago Amanda Carpenter described Trump’s packed, largely maskless rallies as rituals conducted by “a loyalty cult, where members risk coronavirus infection as a feat of strength.”

There’s no reason why COVID should be the only physical test of loyalty, though. Why not hypothermia too?

He held a rally last night at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska. It wasn’t brutally cold, but it was cold — around freezing temperatures when the rally began. If you’re wondering what he’s doing spending time in a red stronghold like Nebraska, remember that that state awards a single electoral vote to the winner of each of its congressional districts. It’s not a statewide winner-take-all. And that’s potentially very important, because Nebraska’s Second District is leaning blue this year. If Biden were to win Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona, he’d land at 269 electoral votes, needing just one more for the presidency.

Omaha could decide who governs the country.

Anyway, because the rally was held at an airport, attendees had to park some distance away and were shuttled in by bus. Trump wrapped up a bit before 9 p.m. local time and was in the air sometime within the following hour. Rallygoers queued up to wait for the shuttles back to their cars; some buses arrived quickly, taking a lucky few back to the parking lot. The remainder waited behind. And waited. And waited. In the cold.

Some didn’t get on a bus until 12:40 a.m., some four hours after the rally ended.

Walking out of the rally, The World-Herald saw two people receive help from Omaha police — an elderly woman who was warming up in the back of a police cruiser and a boy to whom an officer lent a blanket.

Trump campaign officials said they had enough buses ready nearby to shuttle people back to their cars, but said a larger-than-expected crowd, estimated by a reporter at 6,000 but by rally organizers as 29,000, slowed the buses’ return…

That left masses of people huddled in 31-degree weather along two-lane Lindbergh Plaza. Some tried walking back to their cars, pouring into the street, which slowed exiting traffic as well…

“We were all parked over at Eppley,” [one rallygoer] said. “We were 3½ miles through darkness to get there. There was no direction given. I expected at the end of the rally somebody will say, ‘Go this way and there will be buses waiting.'”

Traffic slowed the buses’ return, but traffic was foreseeable at a packed rally. How’d they manage not to foresee it?

Fox News correspondent Jeff Paul was on the scene:

The “Omaha Scanner” Twitter account was following police and EMT chatter all evening. Click here and scroll down about halfway to read what happened after the event ended. A taste:

I’d do it all again, said one Trump supporter to the Omaha World-Herald after freezing her ass off due to the campaign’s incompetence. “I would go up early and stand there all those hours,” she said. “It was an adventure. It was absolutely an adventure.” You’re not really MAGA unless you’re willing to risk bodily harm to show your fealty.

Speaking of which, it turns out that Omaha (and Nebraska more broadly) is one of the many parts of the midwestern and central U.S. posting record case counts right now. COVID, not just the cold, was another threat to attendees last night. One of the hardest-hit states remains Wisconsin, where Trump also held a rally yesterday:

“The president’s decision to downplay the severity of COVID at multiple late October rallies in Wisconsin might be the biggest display of tone-deafness I’ve ever seen, and I cover hundreds of campaigns a cycle,” said Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report yesterday. Ed has a post coming later about an outlandish outlier poll out today showing Trump down 17 points in Wisconsin, which of course is nowhere near the true margin in the state. But it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s lost ground there lately because of his cavalier COVID messaging amid a spiraling local outbreak. Asking people to put themselves at physical risk because you want to have a big rally may make sense to those who are already MAGA, but if you’re outside the tent it’s inconceivably reckless. And people do seem to be getting infected at these things:

The Minnesota Department of Health is reporting three Covid-19 outbreaks related to Trump campaign events held in the state in September…

Trump’s Bemidji rally took place in an airport hanger. According to a CNN producer who attended the event, at least 2,000 people were in attendance. Based on contact tracing by the state Department of Health, at least 16 cases, including two hospitalizations, were identified among attendees.

In the month preceding the rally, the seven-day average of new cases in Beltrami County, where Bemidji is located, was 2.85 new cases a day, according to Johns Hopkins University. On the day of the rally it had climbed up slightly to 3 new cases a day. But four weeks after, the average rate of new cases in the county had increased more than fourfold, reaching an average of 14.57 new cases a day.

Here he is last night snickering at Sleepy Joe for his lame-ass socially distanced Georgia rally yesterday, where no one even had to risk dying to listen to their candidate speak.