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Donald Trump rally 'likely' led to surge in coronavirus cases in Tulsa
9 July 2020, 00:12
Donald Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa "likely contributed" to a rise in new coronavirus cases in the city, a health official has warned.
Protests also took place outside the venue, most of which were peaceful.
On Wednesday, County Health Department Director Dr Bruce Dart said large gatherings in the area "more than likely contributed" to the spike in cases in the area.
“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,” Dr Dart told the Associated Press.
Since the rally, a reporter has tested positive for the virus. Six of Trump's campaign staff had already tested positive.
Oklahoma health officials reported 673 new cases on Wednesday, which is the state’s second-highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.
Three of the biggest US medical organisations have now issued an open letter urging Americans to wear masks, social distance and wash hands often to help stop "the worst public health crisis in generations".
However, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a press conference that the US was a "leader" in the fight against the virus, saying: "I think the world is looking at us as a leader in Covid-19."
The news comes as the United States hit three million confirmed coronavirus cases, as the death toll soars above 130,000.
Trump was keen to downplay the severity of the outbreak when the first cases were detected on 21 January.
It took 99 days for 1 million cases to be confirmed, and then another 43 to hit double that.
But it has now taken only 28 days to hit 3 million.
In recent days Trump has celebrated his self-proclaimed success in fighting the disease, boasting the deaths from the deadly virus were "down ten-fold".
But US health officials say the real number of infections is probably 10 times higher, or close to 10% of the population.
The numbers have been surging in recent weeks amid a rapid expansion in testing. But experts say the rise cannot be explained as just the result of more testing.
They say the outbreak is worsening, as shown by such warning signs as an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus.
On Tuesday, the US set a new record after 60,021 new cases were confirmed in a single day.
Trump has repeatedly claimed the soaring cases are due to an increase of testing, but figures show the percentage of people testing positive is climbing.
Some states are also reporting they are running out of intensive care beds.
In Florida, 56 hospitals reported reaching capacity.
But many states have continued to relax their lockdown rules, albeit with social distancing and facial coverings being mandatory.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said yesterday it was a “false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death" and urged people to refrain from risky behaviour.
He added: "By allowing yourself to get infected because of risky behavior, you are part of the propagation of the outbreak.
“There are so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus. Don’t get yourself into false complacency.”