Both the newspaper Tulsa World and a local health official have urged Donald Trump to cancel his cursed Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is sure to be a memorable stop in his Superspreading Across America tour. The president has effectively announced, under the Trump 2020 banner, that he’s done with covid-19, and that if you contract it at one of his rallies, that’s a you problem.
“We don’t know why he chose Tulsa,” the editorial board of Tulsa World wrote on Monday, “but we can’t see any way that his visit will be good for the city.” Oklahoma voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016.
On Saturday, Tulsa Health Department director Bruce Dart told the same paper that he wished they could postpone the indoor gathering of up to 19,000 people. “COVID is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently,” he said. As of yesterday, new covid-19 cases spiked in Tulsa County to a 65.2 seven-day average from 24.8 cases during the previous week. As of this writing, the Johns Hopkins covid-19 map shows that 115,000 people in the United States have died of the virus, and the nation as a whole has reached over 2.1 million reported cases.
“I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event,” Dart said, “and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.”
Monday morning, Trump tweeted that the “Far Left Fake News Media” is trying to “Covid Shame” the campaign for its “big Rallies” while simultaneously applauding those who have been in the streets protesting police brutality and systemic racism. But while protesters can be seen almost uniformly wearing masks, often alongside volunteers handing out PPE and hand sanitizer, and march outdoors, where the risk of contraction is lower than in an indoor convention center, Trump’s campaign seems unconcerned with coronavirus mitigation tactics. The rally’s sign-up page makes no request that attendees wear masks—ignoring the recommendation of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Nor does it indicate that social distancing measures will be in place.
The sign-up page only contains a block of text telling supporters that they’re liable for the medical bills:
By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.
The New York Times has reported that Trump would likely prefer not to implement safeguards so that his rallies look more full and because masked faces might detract from the optics of his “positive” messaging. Last month, he told ABC News that he “can’t have a rally with, you know, seven seats in between everybody.” Earlier this month, he complained that he was “forced” to move the Republican National Convention from North Carolina because Governor Roy Cooper was still in “Shelter-In-Place Mode” and wouldn’t let him pack the indoor Spectrum Center arena with 50,000 Republicans. Today, he’s bragging that nearly a million people have tried to reserve tickets for the Big Rally.
Acting as a sort of campaign proxy on Sunday, Republican Oklahoma senator James Lankford told ABC’s “This Week” that he planned to go to the really and that “everyone needs to take responsibility for their own health.”
Tulsa World reminds readers that this is not just a personal responsibility: There is still no treatment or vaccine for covid-19, and hospitals will suffer the consequences of large-scale gatherings where people aren’t wearing masks. “It will be our health care system that will have to deal with whatever effects follow,” they write. The editorial board also worries that Trump, “a divisive figure,” is sure to bring protesters, which could mean that the city will be holding the bag in the event of “inappropriate behavior from some.”
“Again, Tulsa will be largely alone in dealing with what happens at a time when the city’s budget resources have already been stretched thin,” they write.
The rally also reaffirms Trump’s utter disinterest in the Black Lives Matter movement. After many condemned the Trump campaign for initially scheduling its rally for Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery, at the site of one of the worst white-on-black massacres in history, the campaign decided to postpone the rally to Saturday, June 20. But only after Trump admitted he hadn’t thought about Juneteenth at all, and then unsuccessfully tried to sell his campaign rally as an emancipation “celebration.”