Judge Denies Request to Block Trump Tulsa Rally Over COVID-19 Fears

June 17, 2020 Updated: June 17, 2020

A judge on Tuesday declined to issue a court order to halt President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, until organizers adopt social-distancing measures to reduce risk of transmission of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus.

The move will allow the president to push ahead with his rally on Saturday, June 20 at Tulsa’s BOK Center, which has a capacity of just under 20,000.

It will be Trump’s first rally since March—when the CCP virus pandemic put a halt to all in-person campaign events—and has received more than one million ticket requests. Vice President Mike Pence has also raised the possibility of holding the event at a different venue due to high demand.

The lawsuit was brought by two attorneys on behalf of Tulsa business owners and city residents amid growing health concerns due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The plaintiffs asked the court to halt the event unless the rally’s organizers agreed to put in place measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, including the mandatory use of masks. Attendees of Saturday’s event are currently not required to wear masks or practice social distancing, CNN reported.

The lawsuit said the prospect of assembling tens of thousands of shouting, chanting people inside an enclosed arena amounted to a “super-spreader” COVID-19 event in the making.

“As currently planned, the event will endanger not only the health of the guests in attendance and the plaintiffs, but the entire Tulsa community and any community to which the guests may afterward travel,” the lawsuit said.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs emphasized that their lawsuit concerns public health and not the president as a public figure, arguing that they would also file a lawsuit if the rally were for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“If ASM Global moves forward with the event without adequate review, planning, training, protective equipment, and safeguards, cases of COVID-19—and the unavoidable attendant deaths—will rise. Oklahoma’s already strained health care infrastructure will be pushed past the breaking point by the certain spike in COVID-19 presentment at local hospitals,” it added.

However, judge Rebecca Nightingale denied the lawyers’ request for a temporary injunction against the company managing the venue.

BOK Center spokeswoman Meghan Blood told Politico in a statement that the venue was following state regulations for combating the CCP virus pandemic.

“Government officials have advised that the campaign rally as planned is consistent with the guidance for the OURS [Open Up & Recover Safely] plan for entertainment venues, however, in the event that the governing authorities impose new restrictions, we will notify the event organizers immediately,“ she said.

The Trump campaign said this week that every attendee will receive temperature checks, masks, and hand sanitizer before entering the venue.

The precautions were added after Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart told the Tulsa World that he hoped the event could be pushed back further because of a “significant increase in our case trends.”

“I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well,” he said over the weekend.

“COVID is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently,” Dart added. “I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”

Prospective attendees are being told that they can’t sue the Trump campaign or the venue if they contract the CCP virus.

“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,” says a statement to people who sign up.

“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.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.”

One of the attorneys who brought the lawsuit, Paul DeMuro, told CNN that the case will still head to the state Supreme Court, despite the Tuesday result.

“The lawsuit is still intact and moving forward,” he said. “We will continue to fight in the Oklahoma Supreme Court.”

Oklahoma reported 8,645 cases of COVID-19 and 363 deaths as of June 16.

Reuters contributed to this report.