Trump campaign declines to say if it will enforce CDC coronavirus guidelines at Tulsa rally

One week out from Trump's first campaign event since the coronavirus outbreak first began in the U.S., the president's re-election campaign would not say what safety precautions it planned to take for its Tulsa rally expected to draw thousands.
Image: Donald Trump
Supporters gather outside the warehouse of medical equipment distributor Owens & Minor prior to a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Allentown, Pa., on May 14, 2020.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters file

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By Monica Alba and Lauren Egan

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign will not say what precautions it will enforce at its Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally next week after making supporters who sign up to attend agree not to hold the campaign liable if they get the coronavirus.

Trump campaign officials declined to comment to NBC News on Saturday, one week out from the president’s first campaign rally since early March, on what, if any, guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control they planned to enforce in Tulsa.

The event, which was originally scheduled for Friday, June 19th, or Juneteenth, which is the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, could attract more than 19,000 people inside the venue, and possibly thousands more outside.

The event would fall into the “highest risk” category, according to the CDC’s own new guidelines issued on Friday, which characterizes those as “large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.”

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale suggested that he was considering adding a second event to accommodate the more than 200,000 to 300,000 attendee sign-up requests they claim to have received for the rally.

There are typically significantly fewer attendees at Trump rallies than the numbers floated by Parscale, but still enough to be considered a high risk.

The new CDC guidance also states clearly that “cloth face coverings are strongly encouraged in settings where individuals might raise their voice (e.g., shouting, chanting, singing)" - all behavior typical of a political rally.

The campaign did not say if it would take temperatures, encourage face masks or block the venue in any socially distant way.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has described attending political rallies as “risky.”

“The best way you can avoid either acquiring or transmitting infection is to avoid crowded places, to wear a mask whenever you’re outside and if you can do both, avoid the congregation of people and do the mask, that’s great,” Fauci said on a recent ABC News podcast.

The online invitation form for the rally asks people to waive their rights to sue if they get sick.

"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. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.," the rally site or organizers "liable for any illness or injury," the form says.

In a rare reversal from the president, Trump tweeted that he would move his Tulsa rally to Saturday, June 20, after he was heavily criticized for being insensitive and disrespectful for holding a political event on a day with significant importance to black Americans, especially given the recent protests after the death of George Floyd. The city is also the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst outbreaks of racist violence in American history.