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Six members of Trump campaign advance team in Tulsa test positive for coronavirus

Six members of the Trump campaign’s advance team that traveled to Tulsa, Okla., ahead of the president’s rally there Saturday night have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The campaign said that none of the staffers who tested positive or anyone who’s been in immediate contact with them will be at the rally Saturday and that there will still be health checks for attendees at the BOK Center. 

“Per safety protocols, campaign staff are tested for COVID-19 before events. Six members of the advance team tested positive out of hundreds of tests performed, and quarantine procedures were immediately implemented. No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director. 

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“As previously announced, all rally attendees are given temperature checks before going through security, at which point they are given wristbands, facemasks and hand sanitizer,” he added.

The announcement puts into stark relief the risks of holding public events during the coronavirus, with local and health officials warning that having thousands of people in enclosed spaces raises the risk for spreading COVID-19 among attendees.

"Let me be clear: Anyone planning to attend a large-scale gathering will face an increased risk at being infected with COVID-19," Tulsa Health Department Director Bruce Dart said during a press conference. "We want to keep people safe. ... If you are part of a vulnerable population, please stay at home." 

"I am not positive everything is safe. I'm not a public health professional," added Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, a Republican. "I completely understand the concern people have if folks show up at this event and aren't smart about it."

White House officials have dismissed concerns over attendees’ health, and those who sign up for the rally must sign a disclaimer agreeing not to sue the Trump campaign or the host venue if they contract the coronavirus from the rally.

The news comes as Tulsa sees a rise in cases, sparking fears that the rally could serve as a tinderbox for an explosion in transmissions. Dart said this week he had recommended the rally be postponed until it was safer to hold a large indoor event without a threat of significant COVID-19 exposure.