“COVID is here in Tulsa,” said the city’s health department director Dr. Bruce Dart. “It is transmitting very efficiently.”
Plans for President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this Saturday are full-speed ahead—even as calls to postpone are growing.
On Monday, the local paper, Tulsa World, published an editorial titled, “This is the wrong time and Tulsa is the wrong place for the Trump rally.” The newspaper outlined several reasons why the city “shouldn’t welcome” the president.
“Tulsa is still dealing with the challenges created by a pandemic,” the editorial writers point out. “The city and state have authorized reopening, but that doesn’t make a mass indoor gathering of people pressed closely together and cheering a good idea. There is no treatment for COVID-19 and no vaccine. It will be our health care system that will have to deal with whatever effects follow.”
In recent days, coronavirus cases have been rising statewide. On Friday, June 12, Oklahoma reported its largest single-day peak of confirmed cases since April 4. Tulsa County is dealing with a fresh surge in cases, recording at least a 75% growth in coronavirus infections from June 1 to June 11.
“COVID is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently,” the city’s health department director Dr. Bruce Dart told Tulsa World in an interview about the upcoming rally.
“I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”
The concern is how further spread of coronavirus could be exacerbated at the BOK Center, where the president plans to host his campaign rally. There is consensus in the scientific community that chances for infection are higher in enclosed and crowded spaces. There is also a growing discussion over wearing masks at the event.
The decision to host the Tulsa rally is another indication that the president appears ready to move on from the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 2.1 million Americans, killed nearly 116,000, and left 44 million people jobless.
“While states across the country are recording record high new coronavirus infections, Trump has simply given up on fighting the virus,” Zac Petkanas, coronavirus war room director for the healthcare campaign group Protect Our Care, told the Guardian. “Not only are nearly a thousand people still dying every day because of Trump’s failed leadership, but he’s making things worse.
“He’s continued to urge states to reopen before they’re ready, drastically scaled down the coronavirus taskforce, is not ramping up the necessary testing and is now even scheduling in-person campaign rallies – all but making sure that tens of thousands needlessly die and millions remain out of work.”
The Tulsa rally was already rescheduled from June 19, or Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Compounding an already controversial event, Tulsa is also the site of a 1921 massacre that killed hundreds, left thousands homeless, and destroyed the wealthiest Black community in the country at the time.
The Trump campaign reported it received 800,000 requests for tickets for Saturday’s event, though seating capacity at the BOK Center is 19,200. There are reports a second event may be planned to meet demand in the city.
Campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted on Monday that rally attendees will have their temperature checked before entering the arena, and will receive a face covering and hand sanitizer. According to CNN, those in attendance must also sign a disclaimer acknowledging the “inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.”