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Tulsa health official: Trump rally ‘likely contributed’ to COVID-19 surge

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  • Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday that Trump’s indoor campaign rally “more than likely contributed” to the surge of coronavirus cases in the county and state of Oklahoma as a whole.
  • “In the past few days, we’ve seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots,” he said.
  • Oklahoma recorded its highest daily rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with 858 infections detected in a 24-hour period.
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A top health official in Tulsa, Oklahoma — where President Donald Trump held an indoor campaign rally — said the event “more than likely contributed” to the county’s surge in coronavirus cases.

“In the past few days, we’ve seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots,” Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said.

On June 20, the Trump campaign gathered thousands of supporters at the BOK Center for his first in-person campaign rally since the pandemic began, in spite of concern from health experts, including Dart, that it could become a coronavirus superspreading event.

Oklahoma saw a record-high daily rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with more than 850 infections detected in a 24-hour period.

Rally-goers were asked to sign a waiver that they recognized “all risks related to exposure to COVID-19,” and all attendees received a temperature check and a mask, with  “ample access to hand sanitizer,” according to Tim Murtaugh, Trump campaign communications director. However, photos show that not many masks were worn.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Murtaugh said the protests outside of the rally were also culpable for the spread.

“There were literally 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,” Murtaugh said. “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,” he added.

While large gatherings of any kind are largely discouraged by health experts, experts said the coronavirus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors, as well as during prolonged interactions.

Photos of the rally showed few people wearing a mask at the event, and videos captured ahead of the rally showed venue workers removing sticker labels meant to encourage social distancing between attendees.

Six Trump campaign staffers tested positive ahead of the Saturday rally, as well as two Secret Service employees who were tasked with screening temperatures of attendees. They ultimately did not attend the event, and dozens of Secret Service members were reportedly ordered to quarantine in light of their diagnoses.

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