Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced that local officials would not block the Trump campaign from holding its rally at the BOK Center on Saturday, despite his own anxieties and increasing criticism and fear that the rally could exacerbate the city’s already mounting roster of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“I also will not attempt to block the state government or the President of the United States by invoking the local civil emergency authority in our city ordinance,” Bynum wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “That authority was used earlier this year under extraordinary circumstances to prevent the catastrophic collapse of our local health care system.”
Although he said that hospitals are better equipped to handle cases than they were when the first strokes of the virus were felt in March, Bynum also admitted that he wasn’t initially aware that an invitation had even been extended to the Trump campaign to hold the event. He only realized that the BOK Center would be hosting the rally when the center’s management reached out about securing police support for the event.
“Do I share anxiety about having a full house at the BOK Center?” Bynum wrote. “Of course. As someone who is cautious by nature, I don’t like to be the first to try anything. I would have loved some other city to have proven the safety of such an event already.”
Bynum said that he will continue to keep a close watch on hospital capacity and the county’s positive test rates for the virus. Bynum comes from a family of politicians — his uncle, grandfather and great-great-grandfather all served as mayor. He also served as a staffer for GOP Sens. Don Nickles and Tom Coburn and later as a city councilor, before beating another Republican in the Tulsa mayoral race in 2016.
The mayor’s comments come after an urgent request to postpone the event from Tulsa Health Department’s director, Bruce Dart, who has advised Bynum on health concerns during the pandemic. Dart cited concerns about potentially increased transmission risks for an indoor event and a rise in COVID-19 cases in Tulsa County. The number of new cases across the state rose 68% in the second week of June, according to a Reuters analysis.
During an interview on “Fox & Friends” interview on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence suggested that an additional venue to accommodate the high demand for tickets could take at least some of the event outdoors.
“I can tell you is it’s all a work in progress and we’ve had such an overwhelming response that we’re also looking at another venue. We’re also looking at outside activities and I know the campaign team will keep people informed as that goes forward,” Pence said.
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