Following weeks of nationwide protests during which the risks posed to large crowds gathered together by the coronavirus were scantly mentioned by the media or health experts, Donald Trump’s campaign announced that it would finally resume holding the president’s famed rallies that had been on hold since early March.
The first of those rallies is set to be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday — but according to the Washington Examiner, a top health official in Tulsa has called for the event to be postponed indefinitely out of concern over a potential spike in COVID-19 cases.
“I wish we could postpone this”
Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa City-County Health Department, suggested that a recent increase in coronavirus cases in the Tulsa area could present a risk to — and potentially be exacerbated by — the gathering of tens of thousands of President Trump’s supporters, not to mention the president himself.
In an interview with Tulsa World over the weekend, Dart pointed to a “significant increase in our case trends” in the city and county that gave him pause, the Examiner noted.
“I think it’s an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,” the doctor said, according to the Examiner. “I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.
“COVID is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently,” Dart added, referring to recent highs in new cases. “I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”
He went on: “A large indoor rally with 19–20,000 people is a huge risk factor today in Tulsa, Oklahoma… I want to make sure we can keep everyone in that building safe, including the president.”
More bad news for Trump: Dr. Dart isn’t the only one expressing concern over the president’s upcoming rally. The Washington Times reports that the venue where the rally will be held, which seats a little over 19,000, had previously canceled all other planned events there until at least the end of July.
That said, Oklahoma is reportedly in the final phase of its reopening plans, and large gatherings of any size are permitted provided that certain precautions — such as proper social distancing and wearing a face mask — are observed by attendees.
Still, the director of Harvard University’s Global Health Institute, Dr. Ashish Jha, told the Times that the Trump rally in Tulsa would be “an extraordinarily dangerous move for the people participating and the people who may know them and love them and see them afterward.”
But it would appear that the Trump campaign and those who intend to attend the rally are fully aware of the potential risks posed by the coronavirus.
Both the Examiner and the Times noted that supporters who register for tickets to the rally must sign a waiver preventing them from suing the campaign or otherwise holding the campaign responsible if they were to somehow contract the virus at the event — and despite that, the president’s campaign manager says hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters have signed up for tickets, according to Forbes.