Trump campaign faces criticism for planned indoor rally amid coronavirus pandemic; reaction from Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser for the Trump campaign.
The arena where President Trump’s reelection campaign is set to hold its first rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is asking the campaign for a written plan outlining how it will incorporate social distancing and other “health and safety” steps.
The BOK Center, which can hold up to 20,000 and had people lining up outside of it more than two days ahead of the Saturday rally, cited an uptick in coronavirus cases in Tulsa, Okla., as the reason why it requested the plan. The campaign was already going to provide masks and hand sanitizer to each attendee, and there would be temperature checks at the door. But GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox News she believed masks would be optional and there has been no apparent social distancing plan or similar system for the indoor event.
“Given the Tulsa Health Department’s recent reports of increases in coronavirus cases and the State of Oklahoma’s encouragement for event organizers to follow CDC guidelines, we have requested that the Trump campaign, as the event organizer, provide BOK Center with a written plan detailing the steps the event will institute for health and safety, including those related to social distancing,” the arena said in a statement Thursday. “Once received, we will share the plan with local health officials.”
The statement continued: “BOK Center will encourage all attendees to remain masked throughout the duration of the event until they exit the building. Signage reminding attendees of precautions will be placed throughout the building. Among the many other safeguards, all building staff will be tested, temperature-checked and provided with personal protection equipment. The venue will be cleaned and disinfected repeatedly throughout the event, with special emphasis on high touch areas.”
There has been other backlash against the Trump campaign’s decision to hold a massive indoor rally just as coronavirus cases increase in Oklahoma, including in an editorial from the Tulsa World newspaper which said it is the “wrong time” and “wrong place” for such an event and a lawsuit aimed at stopping the rally which the Oklahoma Supreme Court will is expected to rule on Friday, according to The Oklahoman.
The Trump campaign responded with a statement Thursday saying that it is taking the BOK Center’s request under consideration but emphasizing that the Saturday event will be an on-brand Trump rally.
“We’ve received a letter from arena management and we’re reviewing it,” Trump campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh said. “We take safety seriously, which is why we’re doing temperature checks for everyone attending, and providing masks and hand sanitizer. This will be a Trump rally, which means a big, boisterous, excited crowd. We don’t recall the media shaming demonstrators about social distancing – in fact the media were cheering them on.”
The Trump supporters lined up outside the arena appeared to take the same stance as the campaign. MSNBC asked Trump supporters in line for the rally if they were concerned about catching Covid-19 while attending the rally in such proximity to others.
“I think if protesters are immune to the corona, maybe Trump supporters are too,” one Trump supporter said.
According to the Trump campaign, more than 1,000,000 people have registered online for the first-come-first-serve rally, which has a capacity of just under 20,000. Those supporters were required to sign a waiver releasing the Trump campaign from responsibility for possible exposure to the coronavirus.
“Looking at a 2nd event in town to get more people to be w/@realDonaldTrump,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted as the number of people registered surpassed 200,000. “Gonna be GREAT in the most open state in the nation!”
Hillary Clinton tweeted last week: “If your rallies come with a liability waiver, you shouldn’t be holding them.”
Fox News’ Mark Merideth, Morgan Phillips and Russell Cosby contributed to this report.