The Trump campaign said Tuesday it would stick with its plan for a giant indoor rally in Tulsa — on the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Oklahoma showed a 7.7 percent increase in COVID-19 cases, the highest in the country.
Ali Pardo, deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, tweeted that the rally would be held at the 19,000-seat BOK Center in Tulsa after Vice President Mike Pence seemed to raise the possibility of moving the event Saturday to an outdoor venue — which he said reflected the overwhelming demand for tickets, not any concerns about the coronavirus.
“We’ve had such an overwhelming response that we’re also looking at another venue, we’re also looking at outside activities,” Pence said in an appearance on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday. “And I know the campaign team will keep the public informed as that goes forward.”
The vice president said he is discussing various options with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who had asked the Trump campaign to consider a larger, outdoor venue.
After the interview, Pardo clarified that the rally will be held indoors, and that the campaign is “also considering other areas adjacent to the arena to allow the President to address even more people.”
State and local officials in Oklahoma have expressed concerns over the Trump campaign’s plan to hold a rally inside a packed arena as Tulsa contends with a COVID-19 outbreak.
“I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event,” Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Bruce Dart said over the weekend.
Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign director, claimed that the campaign has received more than 1 million ticket requests for Saturday’s rally, though it’s not clear how many people requesting them actually planned to attend.
The Trump campaign said it would conduct temperature checks upon entry and provide masks and hand sanitizer to people attending the rally. But CNN reported Monday that attendees will not be required to wear the masks, and social distancing will be optional.
On Monday, Pence said the reason the Trump campaign chose Oklahoma for its first in-person rally since the pandemic shutdown began in March is that the state “has really been in the forefront of our efforts to slow the spread” of the coronavirus.
“In a very real sense, they flattened the curve,” Pence said at a White House roundtable discussion with the president on senior citizens. “The number of cases in Oklahoma is declining precipitously, and we feel very confident going forward.”
But the state has not flattened the curve. Oklahoma is one of 21 states that have seen coronavirus infections rise since Memorial Day.
The CDC figures, according to an internal document obtained by Yahoo News, showed 591 new cases in Oklahoma on Monday, the highest single percentage increase (7.7 percent) in the country.
Jana Winter contributed reporting to this story.
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