Tulsa Covid Outbreak

A result of the Trump rally?

Via the AP: Health official: Trump rally ‘likely’ source of virus surge

President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thousands of participants and large protests “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday.

Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday.

It is highly difficult to demonstrate that the rally is the source of the outbreak, but the odds are decent that having a large number of persons in an indoor space without social distancing and masks led to infection spread.

There has been a surge in the state overall as well:

Statewide, Oklahoma health officials on Wednesday reported 673 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, the state’s second-highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.

At a minimum, the ongoing desire of the Trump campaign to think that large rallies are a good idea just comes across as being at war with reality. There is a rally scheduled in New Hampshire for later this week, but it is to be an outdoor event.

Interestingly, the Republican Governor of NH, Chris Sununu, will not be attending:

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday night, Mr. Sununu said he might have a chance to see Mr. Trump during his swing through the state, but it would not be at the rally on Saturday.

“I’m not going to put myself in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people, if that’s your question specifically,” Mr. Sununu said.

Sununu is up for re-election, so this is an interesting calculation insofar as he is turning down a chance to appear with the sitting president as a campaign event. This speaks both to the precarious nature of a public event of this type in the middle of a pandemic, but also intra-party perception of Trump’s electoral significance going into November. It is really quite striking.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    There is a rally scheduled in New Hampshire for later this week, but it is to be an outdoor event.

    Is it actually outdoors? Thought I saw they were holding it inside a hanger.

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  2. Jen says:

    @SKI: Inside a hangar, but with outside seating on bleachers too. I can’t make heads or tails of the setup, TBH.

    Is the Tulsa outbreak a result of Trump’s rally? Nah, there was TONS of space open in that arena. 😀

    Truthfully though, there were IIRC at least three large events happening in Tulsa that same weekend, if I’m remembering what I read correctly. There was a gun show, the rally, and some other large something, and no masks at any. So the rally might have some effect but probably also the “back to normal” attitude we’ve been seeing in red states.

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  3. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    Maybe the outside seating is intended for what they hope is an overflow crowd.
    I really hope only ten people show up.

  4. Kathy says:

    In Vegas, where casinos re-opened last month, COVID-19 cases are surging.

    There were a number of missteps, like not making masks mandatory inside casinos, but also a lack of precautions by tourists going to the casinos (locals largely don’t gamble on the Strip).

    Masks are mandatory now, but there’s talk that the casinos may have to re-close.

    So, sure, there may be some super-spreader events like the Trump rallies, but largely it’s the reopening that’s driving up the number of cases. All the more so due to lack of precautions like masks, distancing, etc.

    It’s all about odds. If you cram one thousand people, all free of SARS-CoV-2, inside a room for several hours, the odds of any catching COVID-19 are infinitesimal. If you have 100 people in the same room, and two are infected, the odds of the other 98 catching COVID-19 depend on how everyone behaves inside the room, but much higher than in the first scenario.

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  5. @SKI:

    Is it actually outdoors? Thought I saw they were holding it inside a hanger.

    Fair point. The NYT piece actually describes it as “mostly” outdoors.

    @Jen:

    So the rally might have some effect but probably also the “back to normal” attitude we’ve been seeing in red states.

    @Kathy:

    but largely it’s the reopening that’s driving up the number of cases.

    All fair points.

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  6. Joe says:

    there were IIRC at least three large events happening in Tulsa that same weekend, if I’m remembering what I read correctly

    Jen: Juneteenth was also going on that weekend. I assume all of these were Contributors, though I would also note that the Trump rally-goers were from all over, not just Tulsa.

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  7. HarvardLaw92 says:

    In somewhat related news, pretty much half of Oklahoma just officially became Native American reservations …

    Gorsuch keeps surprising me …

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  8. Kathy says:

    The other day I heard a physician say on CNN the COVID-19 vaccines may turn out to be “only 70 to 75% effective.”

    People tend to think vaccines are 100% effective, meaning everyone who gets vaccinated acquires immunity. This is not quite so, and a lot depends on each individual’s immune system. So it’s possible to get vaccinated and still be vulnerable to some extent, or to plain still be vulnerable. That’s why it’s important everyone gets vaccinated, and that’s what “herd immunity” means.

    Say only 70% of those who get a COVID-19 vaccine acquire immunity (never mind for how long just yet). If we vaccinate 100% of the population, that means only 30% of people are susceptible, but even they are protected by the other 70% who are immune, as the virus won’t be able to circulate as much. And the pandemic ends and we can stop wearing masks and limiting where we go.

    If immunity is temporary, then we must work to eradicate the virus by other means. It’s possible re-vaccination will kick in immunity again for a few months, or a different vaccine may be required. Other means include quarantining anyone who still gets infected, with contact tracing and isolation of said contacts.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: @Kathy:

    I have read a number of epidemiologists saying that super-spreader events (packed, indoor events) are where transmissions are most likely to occur, especially when people aren’t adhering to best practices. It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire. I don’t know the data behind those statements and I don’t recall their exact language so the proverbial pinch of salt or 2 applies.

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  10. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    IMO, there’s a big difference between a super-spreader event at the outset of a pandemic, than one in the midst of it.

    Suppose someone gets COVID-19 in Wuhan, then flies home before symptoms develop, then attends a conference or party with lots of people crowded together when they are contagious but still showing no symptoms. That’s a super-spreader event, as many people will get infected.

    If this happens when there are few or no cases locally, then that’s disastrous. If this happens when millions have been infected, it’s more like a small spike than a catastrophe.

  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Steven Taylor

    Sununu will be reelected by a comfortable margin. He has done a good job handling the pandemic and his approval is running about 85%, he can afford to stiff Tiny at this time. He has endorsed Trump in the past but has kept him at arms length and hasn’t drawn any Tiny wrath on Twitter, though he has issued veiled criticism of the administrations response to the pandemic.

    Sununu is focusing on 2022 when Maggie Hassen’s Senate seat is up and if he wants to capture the moderates, he can’t be seen as too close to Trump. For Sununu it is either Hassen’s seat or wait till Jeanne Shaheen’s seat comes up again in 2026. He doesn’t appear interested in a House seat.

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  12. Gustopher says:

    There were enough things going on, and enough of a rise in cases before the event, that with the limited data we have, it is difficult to say what events that weekend caused spread.

    Which means we should be contact tracing and identifying the causes, so we know what is and is not safe. Right now, we have a lot of educated guesses, but not enough hard data — outdoors events appear to be safer than indoor events, which would suggest Trump’s Covidpalooza was a bad idea, but a large indoor space that is half-empty might be fine, or at least less unsafe than we expect.

  13. @Sleeping Dog: Fair points all.