Judge denies request to stop Trump rally due to coronavirus concerns
An Oklahoma judge rejected a lawsuit seeking to block President Trump’s rally in Tulsa this Saturday unless it enforces social distancing and other health measures.
The move paves the way for Trump to hold his rally at the 19,000-plus-seat BOK Center despite warnings from some health officials that the event could spread the coronavirus.
The suit, brought by two attorneys on behalf of city residents and business owners, claimed that the rally would put the community at increased risk of coronavirus infection.
However, Judge Rebecca Nightingale on Tuesday denied the request for a temporary injunction against the company managing the venue.
The plaintiffs had specifically sought to block the event based on Oklahoma’s public nuisance laws and had sought assurances that the event would implement “mandatory use of face masks and social distancing rules for all guests and employees, as recommended by the state, local and federal authorities, and by every credible and qualified medical expert who has studied the issue.”
The two attorneys who brought the suit said they were not targeting Trump with their effort, adding that they would make the same argument for former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
“As currently planned, the event will endanger not only the health of the guests in attendance and the plaintiffs, but the entire Tulsa community and any community to which the guests may afterward travel,” the lawsuit claimed.
“If ASM Global moves forward with the event without adequate review, planning, training, protective equipment and safeguards, cases of COVID-19 – and the unavoidable attendant deaths – will rise. Oklahoma’s already strained health care infrastructure will be pushed past the breaking point by the certain spike in COVID-19 presentment at local hospitals,” it added.
The Trump campaign has said it will perform temperature checks for attendees at the venue and provide face masks.
Still, Tulsa officials have expressed concerns that the event could fuel an already-rising number of coronavirus cases in the city.
“Do I share anxiety about having a full house at the BOK Center? Of course,” Mayor G.T. Bynum (R) said on Facebook earlier Tuesday. “As someone who is cautious by nature, I don’t like to be the first to try anything. I would have loved some other city to have proven the safety of such an event already.”
The director of the Tulsa Health Department also said last week that he wished the president would further postpone the event, adding that the risk of coronavirus transmission was too great, local ABC affiliate KOCO reported.
The mayor on Tuesday noted the safety precautions being taken for the event, adding, “We are navigating a balance between freedom and safety that is new for every city around the world. We will continue to monitor hospital capacity and our positive case rate moving forward.”
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