Tulsa newspaper: ‘Wrong time,’ ‘wrong place’ for Trump rally
The Tulsa World editorial board is calling for President Trump to reconsider hosting a campaign rally in the city later this week, asserting that the coronavirus pandemic still poses a serious health challenge.
“We don’t know why he chose Tulsa, but we can’t see any way that his visit will be good for the city,” the board wrote on Monday. “There is no treatment for COVID-19 and no vaccine. It will be our health care system that will have to deal with whatever effects follow.”
“This is the wrong time,” the editorial added.
Trump announced last week that his campaign would host its first rally in more than three months at the Tulsa BOK Center, an arena with an audience capacity of about 20,000. The campaign initially scheduled the rally on June 19, before pushing it back one day later to avoid overlapping with Juneteenth, the annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. The initial date had given rise to swift backlash from Democratic lawmakers and civil rights groups.
The rally is expected to go on as some states, including Oklahoma, experience an uptick in confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and hospitalizations.
Pointing to the surge in cases in the region, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Bruce Dart said Sunday that he wished the president would postpone the event.
“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,” he said, noting that a large indoor rally produced a “huge risk” for health officials in the region.
The editorial board echoed Dart’s remarks, noting that they’d feel the same way about a rally being held by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The editors also voiced concerns over the rising unrest in the nation following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
“Trump, a divisive figure, will attract protests, the vast majority of which we expect to be peaceful,” the editorial said. “But there may also be confrontation and inappropriate behavior from some.”
The board went on to stress that “Tulsa will be largely alone in dealing” with what transpires following the rally.
“This is the wrong place for the rally,” the editors said.
As of Sunday, Oklahoma health officials had reported 8,231 COVID-19 cases and 359 deaths from it. The state reported 225 new cases over the previous 24-hour period on Saturday, marking a new high for the state and Tulsa County, The Tulsa World reported.
The Trump campaign has included a disclaimer about the coronavirus on the sign-up page for its Tulsa rally. The note said that those registering to attend do so while acknowledging that “an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19” exists at public gatherings. Registered attendees must also agree not to sue the campaign or the host venue if they contract the virus.
Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House National Economic Council, said Sunday that people should “probably” wear masks at the event.