Donald Trump was “incensed” that news of six campaign staffers testing positive for coronavirus was released just hours before he was set to hold his first in-person rally in months, a new report says.
As the New York Times reported, Trump ignored pleas from local officials and public health experts who called on him to cancel the planned rally for Saturday night, the first live event for his campaign since early March and the implementation of nationwide lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Those calls grew even direr on Saturday when, just hours before the rally was set to kick-off, reports leaked that several campaign staff members had tested positive.
As the report noted, Trump was “incensed” that the news of the positive tests leaked.
“Mr. Trump, who was made aware of the sick campaign aides before departing for the rally, was incensed that the news was made public, according to two people familiar with his reaction,” the report noted.
As NBC News reported, the members of the campaign staff who tested positive were in Tulsa for the advanced setup of Trump’s campaign rally. His campaign released a statement saying they performed hundreds of coronavirus tests ahead of the rally, leading to the six positive tests.
“Six members of the advance team tested positive out of hundreds of tests performed, and quarantine procedures were immediately implemented,” Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s director of communications, said in a statement. “No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials.”
Even before reports of staffers who had tested positive for coronavirus, Trump was facing intense scrutiny for insisting on going forward with the Tulsa rally. His campaign had not put in place social distancing guidelines, not requiring attendees to wear masks or keep six feet of distance from each other, both recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to best prevent the spread of the virus.
Local Tulsa health officials warned that Trump’s rally could lead to a surge in cases, and the rally comes at a time when cases both locally and across Oklahoma are on the rise.
Trump has personally pushed back against warnings of coronavirus outbreaks and recommendations to take precautions, speaking openly about his opposition to wearing masks and insisting that this summer’s Republican National Convention not include social distancing rules. The campaign moved Trump’s acceptance speech from North Carolina to Florida when they could not agree on terms of holding the large event in Charlotte. Florida, like Oklahoma, has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.