At a May press conference, Trump — flanked by Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci — continued to flout his own administration’s guidance about wearing masks in public.
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
White House coronavirus advisers Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed concerns last week about the president’s upcoming rally in Oklahoma, NBC News reported.
Experts have feared that the rally, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the BOK Center in Tulsa, could be a COVID-19 superspreading event.
The BOK Center on Thursday said it requested a written health and safety plan from the president’s campaign, which it still hadn’t sent 24 hours before the event, according to the report.
Trump has publicly distanced himself from his coronavirus advisers, ending daily coronavirus briefings and publicly breaking with Fauci.
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President Donald Trump and his campaign for reelection are pushing ahead with their Saturday night rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, despite warnings from top members of the White House coronavirus task force that the event posed safety risks.
According to NBC News, both Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, last week voiced concerns about holding the large-scale, in-person campaign rally amid the coronavirus pandemic, two people with knowledge of the discussions told NBC.
The president has said nearly one million people have expressed interest in attending the rally, which will take place tonight at the BOK Center at 7 p.m. Local Tulsa officials, who have permitted the event but also expressed concerns, have said they estimate attendance could be closer to 100,000. The city-owned venue has a capacity of about 19,000.
Experts have feared the campaign rally could be a COVID-19 superspreading event. Individuals who RSVP’d to the rally — Trump’s first since March — were made to agree to a waiver that absolves the venue and the president’s campaign of liability if a person sickened because of the event.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists “large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area” as the highest-risk for spreading the novel coronavirus.
The report seems to indicate a growing rift between Trump and his coronavirus advisers. The president has previously ignored his administration’s own coronavirus recommendations, particularly in his refusal to wear a facial covering in public.
The Trump White House has also ended its daily press briefings about the novel coronavirus, which typically featured commentary from both Birx and Fauci. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday it was unlikely those type of briefings would occur in the future, NBC News noted.
Earlier in June, Fauci said in an interview that he and other members of the coronavirus task force were no longer regularly meeting with the president. In May, CNN reported that the president publicly rebuked Fauci but preferred Birx because she “is charming and listens to him.”
On Friday, the president further distanced himself from Fauci in a tweet that said he informed the NIAID director that he had “nothing to do” with NFL Football. The day prior, Fauci said during an appearance on CNN that “it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” particularly if a second wave of COVID-19 infections occurred.
Several US states, including Oklahoma, have already begun to see record rises in their number of positive coronavirus cases. There were 352 reported new cases of COVID-19 on Friday in the state, according to the state health department. On Thursday, it reported 450 new cases, the highest number since the pandemic began. The majority of the state’s cases come from Tulsa County.
As Business Insider reported, the BOK Center on Thursday requested “a written plan detailing the steps the event will institute for health and safety, including those related to social distancing.” As of Friday night, the campaign had not provided the venue with such a plan, NBC News reported.
The White House, Trump Campaign, and the BOK Center did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment on Saturday.
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