The Slatest

Tulsa Health Director Wishes Trump Would Postpone Rally as Coronavirus Cases Rise

Trump points toward a crowd of his supporters
President Donald Trump at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, on March 2. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Bruce Dart, the director of the Tulsa City-County Health Department, wishes President Donald Trump would reconsider his plan to hold a campaign rally in the city on June 20. “I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today,” Dart told Tulsa World. Dart said he is particularly concerned for the city because COVID-19 “is transmitting very efficiently” in the city. “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.”

Dart is particularly concerned that there has been a sharp increase in cases lately that is not due to increased testing. The seven-day rolling average for COVID-19 cases in Tulsa County has increased from 24.9 on June 7 to 51.4 on Friday. “There was a funeral that had a large attendance, and we’re finding quite a few cases from that,” Dart said. “But other than that, it’s broad community spread from being out in the community and not taking those necessary precautions we’ve been talking about.”

Dart is hardly the only health expert to express concern about Trump’s rally. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, said the rally amounted to “an extraordinarily dangerous move” not just for the people who will attend but also for “the people who may know them and love them and see them afterward.” Trump’s campaign has included a waiver to the event, requiring attendees to agree they won’t hold the president liable if they contract COVID-19.

The warning from Dart and other health experts came as a number of states reported new daily records of cases as well as hospitalizations. Although the numbers in the New York area are improving, other regions are seeing significant increases. In Florida, the number of new cases broke records for three straight days through Saturday, and while the numbers decreased slightly on Sunday, there were still more than 2,000 confirmed cases, amounting to the second-largest single-day total for the state. In Alabama, records were broken for four straight days through Sunday with 1,014 new cases, higher than the 888 which had been set on Saturday. South Carolina also set a new high for COVID-19 cases on Sunday. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Oklahoma also set new records for total cases sometime over the past three days.

Some dismiss the increase in cases, saying it reflects increased testing. But at the same time, several states are also experiencing record hospitalizations. Texas, for example, broke hospitalization records on Sunday for the sixth day over the last week. Arkansas, North Carolina, and Utah also broke hospitalization records over the weekend.

On the good-news front, New York has seen all of its key metrics decline, including new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned New Yorkers he was ready to roll back reopening in certain areas if local governments do not do enough to enforce social distancing measures. Cuomo said the state received 25,000 complaints about violations, largely in Manhattan and the Hamptons. “I am warning today, in a nice way, the consequences of your actions,” Cuomo said. “I will not turn a blind eye to them.”