Trump Campaign Now Reports 8 Staff Members Tested Positive for COVID-19 Since Saturday's Rally
Eight Trump campaign staffers and two Secret Service agents at Saturday's rally have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus
President Donald Trump's re-election campaign tells PEOPLE that two more staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in the wake of Saturday's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, bringing the total to eight.
CNBC first reported the news, while CNN also reported that two Secret Service members traveling with Trump to Tulsa on Saturday also tested positive for the virus.
“After another round of testing for campaign staff in Tulsa, two additional members of the advance team tested positive for the coronavirus," spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement on Monday. "These staff members attended the rally but were wearing masks during the entire event. Upon the positive tests, the campaign immediately activated established quarantine and contact tracing protocols.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to a separate question asking whether in hindsight it was a safe call to go through with Saturday's rally, which was the first public arena-sized gathering to take place in the U.S. since the country went under nationwide shutdown orders in mid-March.
The campaign anticipated a sold-out crowd of at least 19,000 at the Bank of Oklahoma Center for the event, but the arena was more than half empty by the time Trump spoke Saturday night.
The New York Times reports Trump, 74, was "stunned" by the dismal turnout.
Footage of Trump returning to the White House — with MAGA hat in hand and his tie untied — quickly went viral online, as critics made fun of the president's lackluster campaign rally after four tumultuous months.
Despite the fact that at least 120,100 people have died as of Monday from the COVID-19 respiratory illness, caused by the novel coronavirus, the Trump campaign pushed for Saturday's rally to happen anyways. A Times tracker following the latest reported COVID-19 data shows more than 2.3 million people in the U.S. have contracted the virus. Eight of them this weekend from the Trump campaign alone.
Murtaugh told CNN that the six campaign staffers who tested positive ahead of Saturday's rally did not attend the event. People who showed up for the rally were not required to wear masks or social distance, according to the outlet.
"No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today's rally or near attendees and elected officials," he told the network on Saturday.
The Trump campaign required attendees at the rally to sign a waiver ahead of time, agreeing to not sure the campaign if they contracted the coronavirus at Saturday's rally. Rally attendees did have their temperatures checked before entering the building, and the campaign said it planned to hand out masks and hand sanitizer. Photos from the event showed many did not wear masks.
At the rally, Trump spoke for more than an hour and a half and made a racist jest in calling the virus the "Kung Flu."
Speaking with reporters on Monday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the president's word choice.
“The origin of the virus is China,” she said. “It’s a fair thing to point out."
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