Coronavirus: Oklahoma records highest spike in US days before Trump 19,000-seat indoor rally

Figures showed 591 people had contacted Covid-19 in state on Monday

Louise Hall
Wednesday 17 June 2020 16:48
Trump claims that Oklahoma has a very low coronavirus number

Oklahoma saw the highest percentage spike in coronavirus cases in the US on Monday, only days before Donald Trump’s first campaign rally since march is planned to go ahead in Tulsa on Saturday.

Figures showed 591 new cases Covid-19 recorded in Oklahoma on Monday, a 7.7 per cent increase, according to Centres for Disease Control (CDC) document obtained by Yahoo News.

The Trump campaign is set to go ahead at the BOK Center in Tulsa, a 19,000-seat indoor venue, despite the increasing numbers.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is head of the US coronavirus task force, claimed that the state had “flattened the curve” on Monday.

“One of the reasons we chose Oklahoma is because Oklahoma has done such a remarkable job in reopening their state,” Mr Pence said on Tuesday.

Over the weekend Dr Bruce Dart, head of Tulsa’s health department raised concerns about the event and suggested that the state had not contained the disease.

“Covid is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently... I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today,” he said.

The president claimed on Monday that almost one million people had requested tickets for the rally, despite the capacity of the stadium. The population of Tulsa is just over 400,000.

The news comes as new coronavirus infections hit record highs in six US states on Tuesday, as most states across the country continue with the reopening of their economies.

Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas all reported record increases in new cases on Tuesday after recording all-time highs last week.

Concerns had already been raised that the rally will trigger a spike in cases of Covid-19 in the state, which has seen more than 7,800 confirmed cases and 359 deaths as of Wednesday.

Health officials in many states have attributed the spike in cases to the continued reopening of businesses and Memorial Day weekend gatherings in late May.

Mr Pence had noted the campaign team was considered moving the event to an outdoor venue, but only as a reflection of the overwhelming demand for tickets rather than fear of the virus.

“We’ve had such an overwhelming response that we’re also looking at another venue, we’re also looking at outside activities. And I know the campaign team will keep the public informed as that goes forward," Mr Pence told Fox News on Tuesday.

The Trump campaign has said it will conduct temperature checks upon entry to the venue, provide masks and hand sanitiser to people attending the rally. Mr Pence also said officials were discussing options with Oklahoma’s governor.

“It is a Trump rally, the arena will be packed,” Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign told CNN.

The broadcaster reported that rally attendees will not be required to wear masks, and social distancing will be optional. They must also agree to not sue the campaign, venue or organisers should they contract Covid-19.

“This is the wrong time and Tulsa is the wrong place for a Trump rally,” the Tulsa World said.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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