In the morning email, Heather Cox Richardson (Letters from an American) summarizes:
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said that Trump’s campaign rally there in late June “likely contributed” the recent dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in the state. Observers are already worried about the Sturgis, South Dakota, motorcycle rally in August, which usually draws about a half a million people, and which, as of today, is still going forward.
Here’s the longer story from AP News: Health official: Trump rally ‘likely’ source of virus surge.
President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thousands of participants and large protests “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday.
Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday.
Although the health department’s policy is to not publicly identify individual settings where people may have contracted the virus, Dart said those large gatherings “more than likely” contributed to the spike.
“In the past few days, we’ve seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots,” Dart said.
Trump’s Tulsa rally, his first since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., attracted thousands of people from around the country. About 6,200 people gathered inside the 19,000-seat BOK Center arena — far fewer than was expected.
Dart had urged the campaign to consider pushing back the date of the rally, fearing a potential surge in the number of coronavirus cases.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the campaign went to great lengths to ensure that those who attended the rally were protected.
Shortly after fireworks above Mount Rushmore disappeared into the night sky on Friday, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem accompanied President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One despite having had close contact with Trump’s son’s girlfriend, who had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Trump has been in a position all along to encounter a virus that spreads from people who don’t feel sick, such as Noem, who had interacted closely at a campaign fundraiser with Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who turned out to be infected. Noem didn’t wear a mask on the plane and chatted with the president as the flight returned to Washington, D.C., according to her spokesperson, Maggie Seidel.
Noem had tested negative for COVID–19 shortly before welcoming Trump to South Dakota on Friday, a day after she had interacted with Guilfoyle. One photo on social media showed Noem and Guilfoyle, who is also a Trump campaign staff member, hugging. The Trump campaign announced that Guilfoyle had tested positive on Friday.
Noem doesn’t plan anything similar or to get tested again for the virus, Seidel said. She cast Noem’s decision to fly on Air Force One as a demonstration of how to live with the virus. Seidel pointed to comments from the World Health Organization that the spread of the virus is “rare” from asymptomatic people. But that runs counter to guidance from public health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that advises people to wear masks when interacting with people outside their household.
The CDC says that people with active infections can still test negative, especially if it is early in the infection. The agency recommends that even people who test negative take precautions like avoiding close contact and wearing a mask around others.
It’s just a matter of time.