Tulsa arena hosts thousands for Trump rally amid virus fears
TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump appeared in a hall on Saturday evening to gather that some fears could help increase the incidence of coronavirus cases in some places. Concerns increased after six employees helped set up the event that tested positive for the virus.
State and city health officials have been preparing for a possible increase in COVID-19 cases due to large-scale outdoor demonstrations against police brutality across the country. The Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was the first indoor event of such massive proportions since the coronavirus pandemic began and many states issued orders to stay at home.
More than 120,000 Americans have died from the corona virus.
During Saturday's rally, Trump told his followers that the United States had tested 25 million people, far more than any other country. He also told the crowd that more tests will result in more positive cases being found.
Trump said, "So I said to my people, please slow down the tests."
Officials said they expected 100,000 people from many countries to come together for the rally and other events on Tulsa, but thousands of the BOK Centre's 19,000 seats were empty for the rally. Followers - most of them without a mask - and hundreds of demonstrators filled the streets around the stadium on Saturday.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement that "quarantine procedures" were initiated immediately and that no employee who tested positive would attend the event. Those who had direct contact with them would also abstain.
Brian Bernard wore a Trump 2020 hat in downtown Tulsa on Saturday, but no face covering. He said the numbers and media attention to corona virus were artificially increased, and that didn't stop him from taking a nine-hour drive from his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to his second Trump rally.
"I haven't had a cold or flu in over 15 years, and if I don't have a cold or flu, I don't think I will get COVID," said the 54-year-old from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. "I don't think it's worse than the flu."
The map of the outbreak in the United States and elsewhere has become a patchwork, with infections decreasing in some areas and increasing in others. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo did not hold a briefing on coronavirus on television on Saturday for the first time in months - a sign of progress in the state where the epicenter of the outbreak was - despite calling a conference call to announce baseball Spring training.
Other states have grown, and for example, Nevada and Arizona have reported record jumps in one day in recent cases in recent days.
In Tulsa, Ministry of Health officials said two large indoor gatherings have recently contributed to an increase in new cases. They refused to name the events or say how big they were, but the city has seen the largest increase in infections in Oklahoma in recent days. Several bordering countries, including Arkansas, have also seen an increase in the spread of the virus in the community in recent weeks.
This worries some experts when Tulsa prepares again for Trump's big indoor meeting.
“I think there is no question that indoor events are riskier than outdoor events. But we don't really know how big this difference is. And surely other aspects, such as how dense things are, will make a big difference, ”said Justin Lessler, associate professor of epidemiology at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Lessler said big events like the rally or the protests have "potential to be super spreader events," but their potential to advance the pandemic is short-lived.
"The bigger factor is what happens when people go home," he said. "If everyone goes home and doesn't respect the social distancing factors and goes to the community, they could drive the spread."
On their website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people who want to attend an event take into account whether they are outside or inside. Indoor events are "riskier" because it may be more difficult to keep a safe distance from other people and because ventilation is poorer than outside.
Health officials in Tulsa County had asked state officials to postpone the BOK center event because of a recent increase in cases: Oklahoma peaked on new cases last Thursday at 450, and Tulsa saw 125 new cases on Friday. Other health experts fear that participants may unwittingly bring the virus back to their home cities and states and trigger additional outbreaks. But Oklahoma's Republican governor Kevin Stitt said it was safe.
The Trump campaign acknowledged the risk in a waiver asking participants to sign, relieving them of any responsibility should anyone fall ill. Masks and hand sanitizers have been distributed, but participants will not be required to use them, and no social distancing will be required inside. Trump is also planning an outdoor event.
Teams of people wearing goggles, masks, gloves, and blue dresses check the temperatures of those who go into the arena on Saturday. Some who entered wore the free masks when their temperatures were checked, and some then took them off.
The rally took place one day after the World Health Organization head warned that the pandemic was "accelerating." Outbreaks in America were particularly worrying. Brazil exceeded 1 million confirmed infections, followed by the United States.
It also came on the same day that the National Institutes of Health discontinued a clinical trial of a Trump-advertised malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, to treat adults admitted to the hospital with coronavirus. They found that the drug was of no benefit, but did no harm to the patients. Earlier this week, the United States Food and Drug Administration revoked approval for the use of the drug for the treatment of coronaviruses and said it had potential for serious side effects.
Meanwhile, health officials are still watching the outdoor demonstrations against the police brutality caused by the death of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis. These have gathered thousands of people, in many cases without a mask. States and cities have not reported large increases in viral cases since the protests began in late May, but it was unclear whether protesters were looking for tests in large numbers or quarantining themselves.
So far, California health authorities have reported that few people who participated in the demonstrations tested positive for COVID-19. However, identifying all of your contacts turns out to be futile.
States are also preparing for the summer vacation, stressing that people must continue to maintain social distance when going to the beach, camping, or engaging in other activities. Delaware officials called for high school graduates who attended traditional senior week events on beaches over the weekend to get tested after at least three teenagers tested positive.
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