A reporter who covered U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last weekend has since tested positive for COVID-19, raising fears that there could be more cases to come from the event, which did not include social distancing.
Trump’s rally was met with criticism and pushback from public health experts, who warned that it could be dangerous to hold a large event in a state that has been seeing a rise in cases. Trump’s campaign was also criticized for not requiring social distancing measures, with many attendees — including Trump himself — not wearing masks or keeping six feet of distance from others.
On Friday, Oklahoma Watch reporter Paul Monies, who covered the event, learned that he had tested positive for the virus. As The Associated Press reported, Monies was inside the BOK Center in Tulsa for close to six hours during the event, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing other than when he traveled to the arena’s concourse to get a snack. The report noted that Monies was never in close proximity to Trump.
The positive test has led to some criticism of Trump.
“Who could have seen this coming? Everyone?” tweeted Molly Jong-Fast, an editor at The Daily Beast and frequent critic of Trump.
Others raised concerns that more people could test positive for COVID-19 as well. Oklahoma has been one of a number of states seeing sudden rises in cases. Many of those states have Republican governors who pushed to reopen state economies at a time when public health experts said it might not be safe. Some of those states, including Texas and Florida, are bringing back some restrictions in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading further.
There had already been positive COVID-19 cases among those taking part in the Tulsa rally’s planning. Six of Trump’s White House staffers and two Secret Service members working in advance of the rally had also tested positive for COVID-19. As the Washington Post reported, dozens of Secret Service members decided to self-quarantine after the event as a caution.
It was not clear if Monies contracted the virus while at the rally, but he said he had been reaching out to those he knew and had been close to in recent weeks to inform them of his positive test.
“I spent a couple of hours reaching out to anyone I was in contact with indoors, a few friends in the neighborhood,” Monies said. “I just felt it was my responsibility to tell people I knew myself that I have tested positive.”