TRUMP TULSA RALLY ‘LIKELY’ SOURCE OF COVID-19 SURGE

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD - BY SEAN MUR­PHY

OK­LA­HOMA CITY — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thou­sands of par­tic­i­pants and large protests “likely contribute­d” to a dra­matic surge in new coro­n­avirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health De­part­ment Di­rec­tor Dr. Bruce Dart said Wed­nes­day.

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.

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.

“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,” Dart said.

Trump’s Tulsa rally, his first since the coro­n­avirus pan­demic hit the U.S., at­tracted thou­sands of peo­ple from around the coun­try. About 6,200 peo­ple gath­ered in­side the 19,000-seat BOK Cen­ter arena — far fewer than was ex­pected.

Dart had urged the cam­paign to con­sider push­ing back the date of the rally, fear­ing a po­ten­tial surge in the num­ber of coro­n­avirus cases.

Trump cam­paign spokesman Tim Mur­taugh said the cam­paign went to great lengths to en­sure that those who at­tended the rally were pro­tected.

“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 in a state­ment. “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 said.

Although masks were pro­vided to rally go­ers, there was no re­quire­ment that par­tic­i­pants wear them, and most didn’t.

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.

EVAN VUCCI/AP

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ar­rives at a cam­paign rally on June 20 in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa.

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