On Monday, the largest newspaper in Tulsa, Oklahoma declared in an editorial that President Donald Trump is “not welcome” to hold a campaign rally in the city set for this weekend.
On Tuesday, a local judge denied an effort by city officials, businesses, and non-profits in Tulsa to force the president to enforce social distancing and other safety protocols if the event was, in fact, held.
Meanwhile, public health officials have warned the crowding approximately 19,000 people into the indoor BOK Center arena represents an “extraordinarily dangerous” risk to both attendees and others in the community due to the chance of Covid-19 spread. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the Trump adminstration, said this week that he would not attend such a rally. “Of course not,” Fauci told The Daily Beast.
But as Trump has vowed to go through with the event regardless of the numerous objections, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday told the Associated Press in an interview that it was beyond belief that the Republican president would do such a thing.
“I find it literally incomprehensible that the president, who is an extraordinary narcissist, is willing to sacrifice the health not only of the people who attend his indoor rally, but those people who come into contact with the people who attend the indoor rally,” Sanders told the AP.
“You have public officials in Oklahoma begging him not to do this rally,’ Sanders added. “It is in defiance of what science is telling us is appropriate. And the leader of the United States government is defying science in order to hear cheers from his supporters. It is incredibly irresponsible.”
As the AP notes, even Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt suggested that Trump move the rally to an outside venue with more space for distancing, but was rebuffed.
“As in any event you assume a personal risk. That is just what you do,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday. “When you go to a baseball game, you assume a risk. That’s part of life. It’s a personal decision of Americans as to whether to go to the rally or whether not to go to the rally.”
Last weekend, Leanne Stephens, a spokesperson for the Tulsa Department of Health, explained to Forbes that the chief concern was “about the safety of any large gathering of people in enclosed spaces where social distancing is difficult to maintain.” And the department’s director made his position clear: “I wish we could postpone this.”
And as the Tulsa World editorial begging Trump not to come put it on Monday, “Tulsa is still dealing with the challenges created by a pandemic. The city and state have authorized reopening, but that doesn’t make a mass indoor gathering of people pressed closely together and cheering a good idea.”
“We don’t know why he chose Tulsa,” the editorial stated, “but we can’t see any way that his visit will be good for the city.”