Politics

Two Trump campaign staffers who attended Tulsa rally test positive for coronavirus

Key Points
  • Two members of a campaign advance team who attended President Donald Trump's rally in Oklahoma on Saturday have tested positive for the coronavirus, the campaign said Monday.
  • The new test results bring the tally of advance team members for the Tulsa event who have tested positive for Covid-19 up to eight.
  • The number includes at least two Secret Service officers who had been detailed to the event and tested positive for the virus before the rally began Saturday evening.
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Trump administration responds to disappointing Tulsa rally

Two members of a campaign advance team who attended President Donald Trump's rally in Oklahoma on Saturday have tested positive for the coronavirus, the campaign said Monday.

The new test results bring the tally of advance team members for the Tulsa event who have tested positive for Covid-19 up to eight.

The six earlier positive tests of advance members occurred just before the event, and those people did not attend the rally as a result.

At least two of the earlier positive tests were of Secret Service agents.

The number of people connected to the event who test positive is expected to rise, NBC News reported, citing campaign and law enforcement officials.

The announcement of the two additional advance team members testing positive after they attended the rally came a day before Trump is scheduled to visit the Dream City Church in Phoenix for an event hosted by Students for Trump.

"After another round of testing for campaign staff in Tulsa, two additional members of the advance team tested positive for the coronavirus," said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh on Monday.

"These staff members attended the rally but were wearing masks during the entire event. Upon the positive tests, the campaign immediately activated established quarantine and contact tracing protocols," Murtaugh said.

The two staffers were among those tested after the rally as a precaution for flying home, according to NBC. 

Trump reportedly was furious on Saturday afternoon when news broke that a half dozen members of the advance team had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Attendees of the event were required to sign a waiver releasing Trump and his campaign of any liability if they became ill after the rally.

During the rally, the president called coronavirus testing "a double-edged sword."

"We have tested 25 million people by now, which is probably 20 million people more than anybody else. Germany has done a lot; South Korea has done a lot," Trump said. But here's the bad part: when you do testing to that extent, you will find more cases!"

"So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please. They test and they test."

VIDEO1:4601:46
Trump administration responds to disappointing Tulsa rally

White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Monday that Trump was joking when he said that he had instructed subordinates to "slow" Covid-19 testing.

The Tulsa rally, which the president had been eagerly looking forward to, has been a thorn in Trump's side for days. In addition to the positive Covid-19 tests among campaign workers, the president reportedly also was angry after the event because of what was a surprisingly low turnout.

Despite his campaign boasting in advance of massive demand for the event, the rally at the BOK Center, which has a capacity of 19,000, drew just 6,200 people.

Even before the rally began, workers began breaking down a stage set up outside in an area set aside for what was expected to be thousands of people who could not get into the arena.

Just dozens of people gathered in that outside area by the time that Vice President Mike Pence was set to begin talking inside the arena in advance of Trump.

At the Phoenix church event on Tuesday, attendees also will have to sign a waiver for admittance, which says, "By attending this convention, you and any guest voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Turning Point Action, their affiliates, Dream City Church, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury."

The Phoenix City Council last week passed an ordinance requiring people 6 years and older to wear face masks in public.

"We've seen tremendous compliance with the mask ordinance that went into effect this weekend. Everyone attending tomorrow's event, particularly any elected official, should set an example to residents by wearing a mask," said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego in a statement.

"This includes the President," Gallego said.

Trump has refused to wear a mask in public despite the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging all Americans to do so.

Dream City Church Pastor Luke Barnett and church Chief Financial Officer Brendon Zastrow on Monday appeared in a YouTube video saying that recently installed clean-air technology at the church "kills 99.9% of COVID-19 within 10 minutes."

"So you can know when you come here you'll be safe and protected," Barnett says on the video.

"Thank God for great technology and thank God for being proactive!"