Health official says Trump's Tulsa rally is 'likely' source of new virus surge

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Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said the event 'likely contributed' to the dramatic spread of new coronavirus cases.

Donald Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa that drew thousands of people in late June, along with large protests that accompanied it, "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.

Although the health department's policy is to not publicly identify individual settings where people may have contracted the virus, Dart said those large gatherings "more than likely" contributed to the spike.

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"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.

A spokesman for the Trump campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

A reporter who attended the Trump rally is among those who have tested positive for COVID-19, along with six of Trump's campaign staffers and two members of the Secret Service who worked in advance of the rally.

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.

The new cases reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health follow a record high of 858 cases that were reported on Tuesday and bring the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 17,893. The actual number of infections is thought to be much higher because many people haven't been tested and some who get the disease don't show symptoms.

The health department also reported three additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the statewide death toll to 407.

In response to a recent surge in coronavirus cases, the cities of Norman and Stillwater have approved mandates that people must wear masks in public. Norman approved its ordinance Tuesday night after a five-hour city council meeting during which citizens on both sides of the issue spoke out.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.