As the Trump campaign barrels through growing opposition to its plans to hold its first rally since the lockdown began in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the city on Wednesday reached yet another grim milestone: 96 new coronavirus cases, the highest to date since the start of the pandemic.
“I know so many people are over COVID, but COVID is not over,” Tulsa’s health director Dr. Bruce Dart said at a press conference, reiterating his serious concern over Saturday’s event. “Anyone planning to attend a large-scale gathering will face an increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.”
But some 1200 miles away, the White House continued to push back against the mounting calls to cancel or postpone the campaign rally out of fear that the potential “super-spreader” event would endanger attendees and the overall Tulsa community at a time when cases of the virus are clearly surging. “When you come to the rally, as with any event, you assume a personal risk,” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Wednesday. “That is just what you do. When you go to a baseball game, you assume a risk. That’s just part of life.”
McEnany failed to note that baseball games have been postponed indefinitely. Instead, she echoed President Trump’s recent claims that the media was engaging in hypocrisy for supporting the recent protests against police brutality.
The Far Left Fake News Media, which had no Covid problem with the Rioters & Looters destroying Democrat run cities, is trying to Covid Shame us on our big Rallies. Won’t work!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2020
“If we want to talk about internal coherence, I think the media needs to work on internal coherence,” McEnany said while holding up a New York Post cover juxtaposing photos of the protests to a Trump rally.
The White House’s remarks came as yet another blow to a community pleading with the president to stay away after a Tulsa judge denied a group, composed of local businesses and non-profits, the ability to require the Trump campaign to adopt social distancing measures, including mandatory mask-wearing, at the 19,000-seat indoor arena. McEnany on Wednesday said that the campaign would provide masks but it was ultimately up to attendees to use them.
“If events like these are going to proceed, we strongly encourage those who choose to gather to implement common-sense measures, such as wearing face masks, maintaining as much distance as possible from others, and using hand sanitizer or washing frequently,” the Oklahoma State Medical Association said in a statement on Wednesday.
When asked about the upcoming rally, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases and member of the president’s coronavirus task force, was unequivocal in his disapproval. “I’m in a high-risk category,” Fauci told the Daily Beast. “Personally, I would not. Of course not.”