Donald Trump’s re-election staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of his Tulsa rally on Saturday night, as unmasked supporters gather en masse.
“Six members of the advance team tested positive out of hundreds of tests performed, and quarantine procedures were immediately implemented,” the spokesperson, Tim Murtaugh, said in a statement. “No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials. 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.”
The rally was originally scheduled to take place on Friday but was rescheduled to Saturday after receiving widespread backlash for holding the political event on Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in U.S., and having it take place in Tulsa, where hundreds of Black residents were killed and numerous Black-owned businesses were destroyed in the Greenwood District by a violent mob of white people.
Meanwhile, public health officials have been concerned about the dangers of hosting a large rally — the BOK Center holds 19,000 seats — amid the ongoing pandemic. (A disclaimer on the Trump campaign’s website for the rally said attendees must agree not to sue the campaign if they contract COVID-19.)
Still, by Saturday morning, a few hundred Trump supporters — most of whom were not wearing masks — had already begun lining up at the first checkpoint for the rally, according to the New York Times.
Close to noon, a woman who was wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt was handcuffed and removed from the area just outside the BOK Center, where the rally will take place, even though she told officers she had a ticket for the event. The Tulsa Police Department said in a Facebook post that it had removed the woman, Sheila Buck, at the request of the Trump campaign.