In an interview broadcast on Friday, CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta warned that U.S. President Donald Trump’s upcoming rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, may cause an uptick in coronavirus cases, Mediaite reported.
Speaking with anchor Erin Burnett, Gupta argued that even if only 100 of the 20,000 potential attendees carried the virus, thousands could become infected.
“You have a 20,000-person arena, the question, first of all, is how many people are likely to show up infected,” he said, noting that the temperature checks at the arena’s entrances will not be able to identify asymptomatic carriers.
“Out of those 100 people, 20 people may be spreaders,” Gupta continued, explaining that the attendees will stand close to each other in closed space, many of them presumably without masks, since masks are not mandatory.
“How many people will each person spread it to? We find they can spread it to 40 or 50 people in an environment like that, 20 people spreading it to 40 or 50 people each, 800 to 1,000 people now could become infected at an event like this,” he said.
Gupta added that those who become infected with the virus will then spread it in their communities.
“They then go home and potentially spread to family members or community members. We’re seeing the anatomy of an outbreak here,” he concluded.
Earlier this week, Oklahoma reported its largest increase since the beginning of the pandemic. Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, Oklahoma’s neighboring states, have also recorded record-breaking increases of COVID-19 cases.
Gupta issued a similar warning in a column for CNN‘s website, describing Trump’s upcoming rally as “a recipe for a super-spreader event.” He argued that the event violates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, explaining that other health experts agree with his assessment.
Gupta also pointed out that Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, recently said that he would not attend the rally.
Fauci reportedly shared his concerns with Trump. Together with fellow task force member Dr. Deborah Birx, Fauci reportedly told the president and his advisers that it would be dangerous to hold the event. The president’s campaign apparently ignored the warnings.
Top health officials in Tulsa have echoed these concerns. Tulsa City-County Health Department director Dr. Bruce Dart said that those who decide to attend the rally will put themselves in danger, noting that there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the area. He also pointed out that Trump will be exposed to the virus as well.