A rise in Oklahoma’s coronavirus cases is likely due in part to Donald Trump’s recent campaign rally, health officials say. According to The Associated Press, which spoke with Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Bruce Dart, Ph.D., average numbers have more than doubled in the city roughly two weeks after the large-scale event.
On Monday, Tulsa County set a new one-day record high with 261 people diagnosed with the sometimes fatal virus. On Tuesday, another 206 were confirmed to have it.
Though Dart says he can’t specifically link the rise in cases to the campaign rally, he did suggest that the large gatherings that have taken place in the area “more than likely” contributed to the spike.
The Tulsa rally was marred with controversy from the moment it was announced. In addition to the uproar over the original date, June 19 (Juneteenth), politicians and health officials took particular aim at the campaign’s decision to host an indoor rally with a touted attendee count of more than 200,000.
According to the AP, Dart urged the campaign to push the rally back given the already rising numbers in the state. He expressed concern over the county’s ability to protect those who attended a large-scale gathering, including the one for the impeached president. The venue where Trump performed for his audience holds 19,000 people. All seats were expected to be taken, with an additional 40,000 people watching the show from outside the arena at an overflow stage. Social distancing would be impossible and masks were handed out but not mandatory.
The attendee count on the rally fell drastically short of the projected numbers. At 6,200 rally-goers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Trump could have made the event a Zoom call. Still, it appears that the few thousand who did attend were put at risk for catching COVID-19.
Six of Trump’s campaign staffers who worked the Tulsa rally were diagnosed with the novel virus, as were two of his secret service agents. A reporter who provided coverage for the event was also confirmed to have it.