A controversial campaign rally held by President Donald Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month likely contributed to a rise in the number of coronavirus cases there, a top local health official said on Wednesday.
Tulsa has confirmed hundreds of new cases of COVID-19 over the past two days, said Dr. Bruce Dart, health director for the city and county.
Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump addresses a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20
Tulsa Health Department director Dr. Bruce Dart says the president’s rally ‘more than likely’ contributed to a surge in coronavirus cases in Oklahoma
Although the health department’s policy is to not publicly identify individual settings where people may have contracted the virus, Dart said those large gatherings ‘more than likely’ contributed to the spike.
Asked by a reporter if Trump’s campaign event at the Bank of Oklahoma Center on June 20 could be responsible for that surge, he said: ‘In the past few days, we’ve had almost 500 cases. And we know we had several large events a little over two weeks ago, which is about right. So I guess we just connect the dots,’ Dart said, apparently referring to the rally and accompanying protests.
Dart cautioned that several more days of results would be needed to determine if the spike represented a trend.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said she had not seen data to support Dart’s conclusions.
‘There were no health precautions to speak of as thousands looted, rioted and protested in the streets and the media reported that it did not lead to a rise in coronavirus cases,’ Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.
Most attendees were seen without masks at the rally, which was attended by about 6,200 people
Many seats were left empty at the June 20 rally
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said all attendees were provided masks and hand sanitizer although many didn’t use the face coverings
‘Meanwhile, the President´s rally was 18 days ago, all attendees had their temperature checked, everyone was provided a mask, and there was plenty of hand sanitizer available for all. It´s obvious that the media´s concern about large gatherings begins and ends with Trump rallies,’ Murtaugh said.
Trump, a Republican, came under sharp criticism for holding the campaign event, his first in nearly three months, at a nearly 20,000-seat indoor arena during the pandemic. The campaign had predicted the rally would draw a record turnout. Instead, about 6,200 people gathered inside the 19,000-seat BOK Center arena — far fewer than was expected.
Democrats also suggested that the rally was poorly timed following weeks of protests over the death of a black man, George Floyd, under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.
Dart had urged the campaign to consider pushing back the date of the rally, fearing a potential surge in the number of coronavirus cases.
A reporter who attended the Trump rally is among those who have tested positive for COVID-19, along with six of Trump’s campaign staffers and two members of the Secret Service who worked in advance of the rally.
Statewide, Oklahoma health officials on Wednesday reported 673 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, the state’s second-highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.
The new cases reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health follow a record high of 858 cases that were reported on Tuesday and bring the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 17,893. The actual number of infections is thought to be much higher because many people haven’t been tested and some who get the disease don’t show symptoms.
The health department also reported three additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the statewide death toll to 407.
In response to a recent surge in coronavirus cases, the cities of Norman and Stillwater have approved mandates that people must wear masks in public. Norman approved its ordinance Tuesday night after a five-hour city council meeting during which citizens on both sides of the issue spoke out.