U.S. President Donald Trump will pack thousands of loyal supporters into an arena in Tulsa, Okla., next week for his first rally since the coronavirus lockdowns started — and if any attendees get COVID-19 from the experience, well, that’s their problem.
Anyone who registers for the Trump rally on June 19 must waive the right to sue the president’s campaign or the venue if they later test positive for the virus, according to the rally event page. The Bok Center venue has a capacity of about 19,000 people.
“By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present,” the disclaimer on Trump’s campaign website says. “By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.”
The Trump campaign added the coronavirus disclaimer despite repeated claims from the president that the worst is over, and a strong push from the White House to re-open the U.S. economy. It also comes after the U.S. surpassed 2 million cases of COVID-19 this week, and with the death toll at more than 115,000 American lives.
Trump hasn’t tweeted about the virus since May, when he mourned 100,000 deaths from the virus while applauding himself for things he did in January.
“One person lost to this invisible virus is too much, it should have been stopped at its source, China, but I acted very quickly, and made the right decisions,” he tweeted.
Trump’s return rally in Oklahoma will be held on a date and in a place with strong significance for members of the African-American community, many of whom he’s angered with his response to the death of George Floyd in recent weeks. The rally itself will be in Tulsa, the site of the Tulsa massacre, where white locals murdered dozens of black people in a racially motivated riot between May 31 and June 1, 1921. The rally is scheduled for June 19, a day known as Juneteenth and commemorated as the date when slavery ended in the U.S.
Trump’s last campaign rally was on March 2 in Charlotte, N.C. — a state that irked him recently after it refused to let him hold the Republican National Convention there without coronavirus protections. Trump has now split plans for the convention so that he can accept the GOP’s nomination for president in Jacksonville, Fla., with a crowd of supporters present to applaud him.
Data from the Associated Press shows coronavirus cases are surging in nearly half of all states, even as the country moves to re-open from lockdowns meant to prevent the spread. Arizona hospitals have been told to brace for a large influx of cases, Texas has more COVID-19 patients in hospital than ever before and North Carolina is rethinking its post-lockdown plans amid a local spike.
The stock market — which Trump has often tied to his re-election fortunes — dropped sharply on Thursday amid concerns about a second wave of the virus.
Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee for the 2020 presidential election, blasted Trump on Thursday for “trying to ignore reality” with his handling of the pandemic.
“Just like Donald Trump could not wish the disease away in April, or tweet it away in May, he can’t ignore it away in June,” Biden said in a statement.
“Even now, after the incredible toll our country has already paid, President Trump still refuses to take the virus seriously.”
Trump’s campaign fired back at Biden on Thursday, saying that his decision to restrict travel from China in January saved “countless lives.” The campaign also claimed responsibility for the current state of testing in the U.S. — something Trump refused to do three months ago when testing problems were rampant.
“Under the president’s leadership, the United States has conducted more virus tests than all other nations combined,” said campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh. “Joe Biden, meanwhile, continues to lob ineffective partisan bombs from the sidelines, looking for relevance where there is none.”
Trump faced sharp criticism through March, April and into May for a slow and ineffective effort to roll out coronavirus testing across the U.S., which has the third-most people — and the most coronavirus cases — in the world.
When asked about testing delays on March 13, Trump declared: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
—With files from Reuters and The Associated Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.