Tulsa City Health Official Says Trump Rally ‘Likely Contributed’ to Surge of New Coronavirus Cases

Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart says President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June “likely contributed” to the new surge of coronavirus cases in the area.

On Wednesday, Dart told the Associated Press that the large gathering “more than likely” contributed to the spike, as it drew in thousands of participants — and protesters.

“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,” Dart said.

Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high for the area. On Tuesday it reported another 206 cases. In the week leading up the rally, which took place on Saturday, June 20, the county only reported 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday, per the department’s database. 

As of Thursday afternoon, July 9, there have been 407 deaths and 17,893 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Oklahoma according to The New York Times database.

RELATED: Trump Admits at Smaller-Than-Billed Tulsa Rally He Slowed Coronavirus Testing to Hide Scope of U.S. Spread

When asked for comment by PEOPLE, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement: “All attendees had their temperature checked, everyone was provided a mask, and there was plenty of hand sanitizer available for all.”

Trump Tulsa rally

Trump’s rally was held at the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa, despite concerns about the ongoing pandemic. The 74-year-old president did not wear a face mask. Attendees were required sign a waiver preventing them from suing if they tested positive for the coronavirus afterward.

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Hours before the event, six White House staffers tested positive for the virus, and another two tested positive in the days following the rally.

On Saturday Trump plans to make an appearance at Portsmouth International Airport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, one of the few states with a declining number of infections in recent weeks. The rally will reportedly take place inside a hangar there, according to CNN, and there will be space for overflow.

RELATED: Trump Campaign Will ‘Encourage’ Masks at His Next Rally amid Pandemic, Weeks After Tulsa Debacle

The campaign says there will be “ample access to hand sanitizer” at Saturday’s event and it will be giving out protective face masks “that [attendees] are strongly encouraged to wear.”

In New Hampshire, there have been 386 deaths and 5,952 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Thursday, July 9, according to The New York Times database.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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