The causes of Tulsa’s rise in cases are still being studied by local health officials. A spokeswoman for Tulsa’s health department said investigations of “recent outbreaks” were focused on “large indoor gatherings.”
“Like any other public health official, I’m a little angry,” Mr. Dart said about the rally. “Frankly, I’m afraid for a lot of people. It hurts my heart that we know this is a possibility and we’re doing it anyway. It’s like seeing the train wreck coming.”
Ms. Keith and Mr. Dart said they were particularly concerned about visitors from nearby states, several of which have recent spikes more severe than Oklahoma’s, including Texas, where the 2,166 coronavirus patients hospitalized on Friday were the most yet in the state.
“We can’t control whether they’re coming in from hot spots,” Ms. Keith said. “This is not about politics. This is about the insanity of our numbers.”
Oklahoma, which Mr. Trump won four years ago by 36 percentage points, began lifting restrictions on businesses on April 24 and moved into Phase 3 of its reopening on June 1, allowing summer camps to open and workplaces to return with full staffing levels.
But the state’s governor, Kevin Stitt, said Monday that he had asked Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who plans to attend the rally, to consider a larger, outdoor venue to accommodate the number of people who have requested tickets to the event. Ms. Keith said she had had conversations throughout the weekend about alternative venues for the event.
“We’re going to make sure that people have hand sanitizers, that we do temperature screenings and also make masks available to people that are attending the event,” Mr. Pence said on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning. “But look, the freedom of speech, the right to peacefully assemble, is enshrined in the first amendment of the Constitution. And the president and I are very confident that we’re going to be able to restart these rallies.”