Vice President Mike Pence is wrongly asserting that the spread of coronavirus in Tulsa, Oklahoma, isn’t something to worry about, days before President Donald Trump’s first campaign rally since March is set to take place there.
Pence believes that such fears are misplaced because, according to him, the state where the rally is going to happen has seen cases go down.
“The number of cases in Oklahoma has declined precipitously and we feel very confident going forward with the rally this coming weekend,” Pence recently said.
However, that statement from the vice president is demonstratively false: cases are going up, not down, in both Oklahoma and in Tulsa itself, making it more likely that Trump’s campaign rally will boost the spread of the coronavirus.
According to numbers obtained earlier on Tuesday afternoon from The New York Times’s coronavirus tracking website, the seven-day average of new cases being observed across the state currently sits at 173.0 new cases per day. The previous seven-day average was 90.4 new cases per day.
The seven-day average in Tulsa County, where the campaign rally will take place on Saturday, is currently at 56.0 new cases per day. Two weeks ago, that average was at just 18.4 new cases per day — a 304 percent increase in numbers during that time.
The increase in new cases is evident in a visual way as well, as shown by a tweet from CNN’s Daniel Dale, demonstrating that the number of cases isn’t declining, but increasing across the state.
Pence says Oklahoma has flattened the curve and that the number of cases in the state has "declined precipitously." https://t.co/ewI8rrLwsf pic.twitter.com/UfFjUywC0x
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) June 15, 2020
Many in Tulsa do not want the president to make his first campaign stop in their city, with The Tulsa World editorial board opining on Monday against doing so. Tulsa is “still dealing with the challenges created by a pandemic,” the paper noted.
Bruce Dart, the director of Tulsa’s City-County Health Department, also weighed in, telling The Tulsa World in a separate news article he felt that Trump should reconsider, too.
“I think it’s an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,” Dart explained.
Trump frequently denounced warnings about COVID-19 in the run-up to the pandemic, particularly in late February and early March, when he assured Americans it was nothing to worry over. After he relented and issued social distancing guidelines for states to employ, he soon demanded that the nation “reopen,” perhaps doing so in order to help his reelection chances for this year’s presidential race.
Trump’s recent statements on the virus’s spread don’t inspire much confidence in his understanding of properly containing the spread of the disease, either. “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” the president suggested on Monday.
As of Tuesday, more than 118,000 Americans have died of coronavirus, with nearly 2.2 million having contracted the disease since March 1.