Tulsa health director wishes Trump would postpone rally

Author: The Associated Press
Published: Updated:
FILE – In this March 17, 2020, file photo, Tulsa Health Department director Dr. Bruce Dart takes part in a news conference about local response to the coronavirus pandemic in Tulsa, Okla. The department said Tuesday, April, 7, 2020, that 67 Oklahomans have now died and 1,472 have tested positive for the virus. Dart said he is “starting to hate” the virus and urged residents to stay home, wash their hands and distance themselves socially. (Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World via AP, File)

With the number of coronavirus cases in Oklahoma rising by record levels in recent days, the director of the Tulsa Health Department says he wishes President Donald Trump would again postpone a planned rally in Tulsa.

The Trump campaign has already postponed the rally at the BOK Center from Friday to Saturday after criticism that the event would coincide with Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in the country, and will take place just blocks from the site of a massacre that left hundreds of African Americans dead in 1921.

Health Department director Bruce Dart underlined Saturday that it was a matter of pride that the president has chosen Tulsa for his first campaign rally this season, but that it is still too dangerous because of the risk of coronavirus transmission.

“I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today,” Dart told the Tulsa World.

“I think it’s an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,” Dart said. “I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.”

The BOK Center, a 19,000-seat arena, has canceled all other events through the end of July. The Trump campaign has acknowledged the risk. A waiver attendees must sign absolves the campaign of any responsibility should people get sick.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Sunday reported 158 new cases of the coronavirus, but no additional deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

There are now 8,231 confirmed cases, up from 8,073 cases reported Saturday, and the death toll is unchanged at 359. The health department says 6,578 people have recovered. The actual number of people who have contracted the virus is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

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