While President Donald Trump may be fuming about the low attendance at his disastrous rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 18, the bigger disaster will more than likely be the human toll of holding such a large indoor event during a pandemic against the advice of public health experts. On Wednesday, American Oversight obtained records showing that Tulsa health officials estimated that up to nine initial deaths would occur as a direct result of the rally.
American Oversight received the documents in response to a public records request filed with the Tulsa Health Department for any final assessments, reports, or analyses regarding how the campaign’s planned rally would impact the spread of Covid-19. The initial estimates of transmission rates and deaths are based on an expected 19,000 attendees, with “minimum estimates” being about 45 expected cases and two deaths, and “moderate estimates” being 228 cases and nine deaths. The department did not appear to calculate a worst-case scenario.
The stark numbers put the decision to hold such a large event — with few wearing masks — in a startling and unnerving light. While the final attendance numbers were just over 6,000, using those same “moderate” calculations could still yield an estimate of up to three deaths.
The document includes background on a similarly large indoor gathering from the earlier days of the pandemic. That event, a March 6 basketball tournament in Indiana, involved a crowd of 2,800 and led to five deaths from Covid-19. “Although awareness of the risk of gathering in large crowds should be higher [now], the actual risk of attending this [gathering] is still high, and may be higher as the number of active cases in communities continues to rise.”
While it is not yet known if anyone has died as a result of the rally, news reports indicated that eight Trump campaign staffers involved in the Tulsa event tested positive for Covid-19.
On Wednesday, the Trump campaign reassigned one of its top officials who had been handling the president’s rallies, an indication of the president’s displeasure at the relatively low numbers. Meanwhile, the campaign has also canceled a number of in-person rallies as cases surge in states across the country.
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