Six members of President Donald Trump’s campaign staff who are in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to set up for the president’s first campaign rally in months have tested positive for the coronavirus, the campaign announced Saturday.
The president’s campaign said they had performed hundreds of tests before the rally, his first since March 2, and Tim Murtaugh, the campaign communications director, said six members of the advance team tested positive and were immediately quarantined.
“No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials,” Murtaugh said in a statement.
Of the six, at least two of them are Secret Service agents, according to a law enforcement official.
The news comes as Trump, the White House and the president’s re-election campaign organization have been criticized for hosting the event in an enclosed, 19,000-seat arena in Tulsa. The campaign has required all those in attendance to sign a digital waiver releasing the campaign and the president of any liability if they get sick.
A White House official told NBC News that the administration is aware of the staffers who tested positive but declined to comment.
A source familiar with the matter said that the campaign is doing contact tracing, but also noted that staffers have been in Oklahoma for a week. The majority have not been wearing masks, were going out to restaurants and weren’t take precautionary measures because of the pandemic.
NBC News reported on Friday that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and coronavirus task force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx both expressed concern in the last week over the safety of holding Saturday’s rally in part because Oklahoma has also seen a significant rise in COVID-19 cases.
There has been a 100 percent spike in Tulsa County just this week, the highest in the state, and health officials announced Saturday that it had 136 new coronavirus cases, the highest number yet to be reported in a single day in the state as the trend of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Oklahoma continues to rise.
The campaign, however, has maintained that it is taking enough precautions to avoid a sudden uptick in cases.
“As previously announced, all rally attendees are given temperature checks before going through security, at which point they are given wristbands, face masks and hand sanitizer,” Murtaugh said.