A little over two weeks ago, Donald Trump held a campaign rally at an indoor arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and now the city is experiencing a surge in new coronavirus cases.
According to CNN, it was reported by Dr. Bruce Dart, Executive Director of the Tula Health Department, that there are high numbers being reported this week, with nearly 500 new cases in just two days. Trends show that those numbers will likely increase.
Between June 28 through July 4, there was a 20% decline in new COVD-19 cases. But on Wednesday alone, the Tulsa Health Department reported 266 new cases, bringing the city’s total to 4,571 out of the 17, 894 cases for the state of Oklahoma. There have been 452 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases in the U.S.
However, Dart does not blame Trump’s rally when asked if it was the culprit; apparently, there were several large events over the past two weeks. “I guess we just connect the dots,” Dart said.
Leanne Stephens of the Tulsa Health Department told CNN, “Our epidemiologists and contact tracers are inundated with following up with Tulsa County residents who are confirmed positive as the numbers have been extremely high in recent days. Yesterday, we set a new single-day case high, and you can see on our website where the trends are moving.”
Harvard Medical School said the coronavirus has a lengthy incubation period—the time between when someone gets infected to when symptoms start to show (if at all). With COVID-19, the onset is about 3-14 days, but typically signs appear within 4-5 days after exposure.
In the meantime, Tim Murtaugh, Trump’s campaign communications director, blasted the media for their lack of blame on the thousands that “looted, rioted, and protested in the streets.” Evidently, he feels that there were “no health precautions” by the media when protests took place, nor did the media report the rise in the virus.
“Meanwhile the president’s rally was 18 days ago, all attendees had their temperature checked, everyone was provided a mask, and there was plenty hand sanitizer available for all. It’s obvious that the media’s concern about large gatherings begins and ends with Trump rallies,” he told CNN, providing a link of CNN reporting on research suggesting that Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. did not lead to an increase of new cases.
After the rally, all campaign staffers for Trump quarantined. But several colleagues tested positive for the virus, and multiple Secret Service officers were told to self-quarantine after two who were on site for the rally were diagnosed.
The Tulsa Fire Department said about 6,200 people attended the June rally.
The increase of new cases stemming from Trump’s rally or the other “serious seven” events (weddings, religious events, and other large turnout events) has prompted Mayor G.T. Bynum to sign an executive order which will go into effect on Friday and will require events with more than 500 people to follow guidelines set by the health department to evaluate safety plans. It will also implement event organizers and health officials who will work on case-by-case bases to make safe protocols concerning the event.
Bynum assured hospital capacity is fine right now, but as of this week, he “finally started to hear some concern, not about where things stand today, but where things could look if we continue on this trajectory unchecked.”
He also said the ordering and distribution of masks for employees at bars and restaurants has helped the local health department with their contact tracing by showing them the leading contributors to cases in the area. However, the city does not have a city-wide mandate requiring face coverings, although it is highly encouraged.
“I think that the thing that citizens need to understand is that when we put that kind of mandate in place, we will be putting it there because we had no other choice but to do that to protect their ability to get medical care over the long term of this pandemic,” Bynum said when asked why the city hasn’t put in a mask mandate.