Vice President Mike Pence insisted Monday that Oklahoma’s COVID-19 cases have “dropped precipitously” and “in a very real sense they’ve flattened the curve” — just two days after the state posted a record high in daily new cases.
Pence blatantly misrepresented the facts as he addressed concerns about President Donald Trump’s plan to lure thousands of people into a stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a political rally Saturday even as COVID-19 cases rise alarmingly and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to warn of the serious risk of contagion in large gatherings.
Trump also claimed in an appearance with Pence at the White House that Oklahoma has a “very low number.” The vice president is joining Trump at the rally.
In the actuality, Oklahoma reported 225 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, its highest one-day total in the pandemic, to reach 8,000 confirmed cases statewide. Tulsa County, where Trump will hold the rally, reported 89 new cases since Sunday — its largest single-day figure since the state’s first COVID-19 case on March 6.
Cases have been trending sharply upward since a week ago. Tulsa County’s seven-day rolling average for COVID-19 cases has risen from 24.9 cases on June 7 to 51.4 as of Friday, according to state statistics.
A concerned Dr. Bruce Dart, director of Tulsa’s health department, told the Tulsa World newspaper Friday that the city is experiencing a “significant increase in our case trends.”
COVID-19 “is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently,” he warned. “I wish we could postpone this [rally] to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”
Dr. Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, called Trump’s rally “an extraordinarily dangerous move for the people participating” — as well as for everyone with whom they may come in contact afterward.
Registration for the rally on Trump’s campaign website includes a legal disclaimer that the president is not responsible if those attending contract COVID-19 at his event.
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