As the coronavirus floats across the U.S., health experts are worried that President Trump’s campaign will take place in Tulsa, Oklahoma and become a new focal point for coronavirus infections.
Leaders and public health experts have expressed concern, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s best infectious disease expert, as well as Bruce Dart, director of Tulsa Health Department, who told the Tulsa world he wanted “that we can postpone it to a time when the virus is not as big a concern as it is today. “
The Tulsa Bank of Oklahoma Center Arena can accommodate just under 20,000; participants will be admitted on the basis of first arrival, first service. People lined up for days to secure their seats.
But at a time when Covid-19 cases are on the rise in Oklahoma – the state has uncovered new confirmed cases more than double the previous week, according to an analysis by Johns Hopkins University – and a rally in neighboring Texas could be a recipe for a super spread event.
Participants will not be required to maintain social distance or wear masks at tonight’s rally, despite Trump’s top public health officials stressing the importance of both measures in preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Rastap violates almost everything guiding principles of assembly issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, classifying it in the “highest risk” category:
- It is large and closed.
- Social distancing will almost certainly not be possible if the arena is filled with anything close to capacity.
- Participants are likely to shout and sing (and throw drops further and faster than if they spoke softly).
- There may be social pressure not to wear masks, as many Trump supporters mocked the use of masks during a pandemic, and Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he thinks some are wearing them to signal disapproval of him.
“We know why virus transmission happens more often, and that involves close contact, especially without masking, crowding, [being] indoors, outdoors, the duration of contact and then shouting also increases the possibility of transmission, ”said Catherine Troisi, an epidemiologist of infectious diseases at the University Health Center in Houston.
“There will be tens of thousands of people. So it’s a great place to spread the virus. And as far as I understand, it’s not just people living in Tulsa. There are people coming from far away to go to the rally, so they’ll go back to their hometowns and so that we see ourselves spreading beyond the Tulsa area, she continued.