The director of Tulsa’s Health Department said he “wishes” President Trump would reschedule Saturday’s campaign rally as the city experiences an uptick in coronavirus cases.
“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,” said Director Bruce Dart in an interview with the Tulsa World on Saturday.
“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.”
Dart said Tulsa is seeing a “significant increase in our case trends” that he believes could put attendees and the president at risk.
Oklahoma reported its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases on Friday, when 223 positive tests were reported — only to have that record broken the next day when another 224 new cases were reported Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“COVID is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently,” Dart told the outlet. “I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”
The rise of new COVID-19 patients has otherwise spiked and dropped from day to day, not previously surpassed 171 new cases for a single 24 hours. Dart told the paper that the recent jump wasn’t from increased testing — which has remained constant in recent weeks — but likely from “quarantine fatigue” and large private events.
“People are not staying home now, they’re out and about,” Dart added. “I completely understand that, staying closed just wasn’t feasible economically and from an emotional, physical perspective.”
Trump has drawn criticism from Democrats for holding the event during the pandemic, and also for originally planning the rally for on June 19, the Juneteenth holiday.
The president relented on the latter point and tweeted late Friday that the rally would be moved back a day, to Saturday, June 20. He said pushed the rally back out of respect for the date that marks the day when news that President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, the last state where slaves learned of their freedom.
All attendees are required to sign a sign coronavirus disclaimer stating that they bear all responsibility if they catch the coronavirus.
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