The top health official in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is warning that Donald Trump's upcoming rally in the city could lead to a surge in coronavirus cases, one that could overwhelm the local hospital system and even put Trump himself in danger.
Last week, the Trump campaign announced that it would be holding its first live and in-person rally in more than three months when the restrictions from the coronavirus grounded the campaign. The event will be held on June 20 in Tulsa, with many thousands expected to attend.
As Tulsa City-County Health Department director Dr. Bruce Dart told the Tulsa World, the event is being held at a time when coronavirus cases are on the rise in the area and across the state. He warned that the "significant increase in our case trends" taking place makes it very dangerous for those attending Trump's rally.
As the report noted, state officials reported 225 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, a new high in daily cases both for the entire state and in Tulsa County. While Dart said it is an honor for the Tulsa area to have a visit from a sitting president, he said it was not so "during a pandemic.
"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," he said.
Dart added that having a large number of people at the rally and outside the arena -- as many of Trump's rallies have attracted large crowds outside among people who don't have tickets but want to take part in the event -- could pose a major risk for more infections in a short period of time. This could be enough to overwhelm local hospitals and the healthcare system, he warned.
Those attending the rally have already been warned of the potential risk of attending a large event during a pandemic. Trump supporters who went to the campaign website to register for tickets were met with a warning and disclaimer that they attend at their own risk, and cannot sue the Trump campaign if they contract the virus at the event.
"By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury," the notice read.The rally itself had already been a point of controversy, as it had originally been scheduled on June 19, known as Juneteenth. The day commemorates the end of slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation. Critics said that it was inappropriate to hold a rally on this day in Tulsa, which in 1921 was the site of one of the nation's worst acts of racial violence as mobs of white residents killed hundreds of black residents and burned down their neighborhoods and businesses.