Tulsa, Oklahoma is seeing a surge of coronavirus cases, which one health official is attributing to the rally thrown by President Donald Trump on June 20. On Wednesday, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart told the Associated Press that the poorly-attended rally had "more than likely contributed" to the outbreak.
"In the past few days, we've seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots," Dart said. Tulsa County reported 261 new cases on Monday, which set a record and was followed by another 206 cases on Tuesday. The week leading up to Trump's rally, there were 76 new cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday, for comparison. Although the health department's policy doesn't permit to publicly identify individual settings, Dart attributed it to at least some of the cases.
On Wednesday, Oklahoma health officials reported 673 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, making it the state's second-highest daily total since the pandemic was declared on March 13. Tuesday was the highest with 858, bringing the state's confirmed case total to 17,893. Masks were provided for attendees of the rally, although there was no requirement to wear one, and it was widely reported that very few did. Six of Trump's campaign staffers and two members of the Secret Service, all who worked ahead of the rally, later tested positive as well.
Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the president's reelection campaign, wrote in a statement that they had gone to great lengths to ensure that rally-goers were protected. "There were literally no health precautions to speak of as thousands looted, rioted, and protested in the streets and the media reported that it did not lead to a rise in coronavirus cases," the statement read. "Meanwhile, the President’s rally was 18 days ago, all attendees had their temperature checked, everyone was provided a mask, and there was plenty of hand sanitizer available for all. It's obvious that the media’s concern about large gatherings begins and ends with Trump rallies."
The rally itself was held at the BOK Center in Tulsa, which holds 19,200 people, though only roughly 6,200 attended. Following the turnout, Murtaugh claimed "sadly, protesters interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally." He also attempted to blame "radical protestors, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media, attempted to frighten off the President's supporters."