Six staffers working on Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have tested positive for coronavirus, the president’s campaign said on Saturday.
Just hours before the President was expected to arrive in the state, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement cited by CNN that ” As per safety protocols, campaign staff are tested for COVID-19 before events. Six members of the advance team tested positive out of hundreds of tests performed, and quarantine procedures were immediately implemented.”
“No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials,” he said.
The Trump campaign has dismissed concerns about the ongoing pandemic, moving forward with the scheduled rally despite a rising infection rate in Oklahoma.
As of Saturday afternoon, Tulsa County reported the most cases — 2,206 total — of any county in the state, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The state also recently reported its largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the BOK Center, where Saturday’s rally is taking place, said they’d asked Trump’s campaign for a written plan accounting safety measures for the event.
“Given the Tulsa Health Department’s recent reports of increases in coronavirus cases and the State of Oklahoma’s encouragement for event organizers to follow CDC guidelines, we have requested that the Trump campaign, as the event organizer, provide BOK Center with a written plan detailing the steps the event will institute for health and safety, including those related to social distancing. Once received, we will share the plan with local health officials,” Meghan Blood said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Trump campaign principle deputy communications director Erin Perrine told CNN that the campaign was taking the concerns “seriously.”
“The campaign takes the health and safety of rally-goers seriously and is taking precautions to make the rally safe. Every single rally goer will have their temperature checked, be provided a face mask and hand sanitizer,” Perrine said.
“We are also taking precautions to keep rally-goers safe in the Oklahoma heat — including providing water bottles to keep people hydrated,” Perrine added.
Attendees will not be required to wear a mask, however.
Those attending the rally must agree to not to sue the campaign if they contract coronavirus.
Rallygoers who RSVP’d to gain admission to the event had to agree to a disclaimer that states they acknowledge the “inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.”
Public health officials both on the ground in Tulsa and within the President’s administration have warned about the potential risks.
The Tulsa city-county Health Department Director David Bart said he wished the event would be postponed, while the BOK Center has cancelled or postponed all other events at the venue through the end of July.