Six staffers working on US President Donald Trump’s upcoming rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have tested positive for the coronavirus, or COVID-19, a campaign spokesman said.
“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,” Tim Murtaugh, communications director for Trump’s 2020 campaign, said in a statement on Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.
“No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials,” Murtaugh added.
The announcement came only hours before the Tulsa rally, the first of its kind for Trump in more than three months, amid warnings from health experts against large-scale gatherings, as some states, including Oklahoma, are seeing a surge in confirmed cases, while they are reopening.
Attendees of Saturday’s rally will receive temperature checks, hand sanitizer, and masks before entering the BOK Center, which can hold 19,000 people, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said earlier this week.
They have also been asked to sign a waiver releasing the Trump campaign from responsibility for possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Trump, in an interview with Axios on Friday, said that they are “going to have a wild evening” in Tulsa.
“We have to get back to business. We have to get back to living our lives. Can’t do this any longer,” Trump said. “And I do believe it’s safe. I do believe it’s very safe.”
But the president stressed that he won’t wear a mask.
“If people want to wear masks I think that’s great,” he said. “I won’t be. Not as a protest but I don’t feel that I’m in danger.”
The coronavirus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” the agency said in the public guidelines.
Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, has said that he wouldn’t personally attend political rallies over health concerns.
“I’m in a high risk category. Personally, I would not. Of course not,” Fauci, 79, told an interview with Daily Beast earlier this week, adding that when it came to Trump’s rallies “outside is better than inside, no crowd is better than crowd” and “crowd is better than big crowd.”