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Oklahoma reports a record increase in coronavirus cases, days before Donald Trump's indoor rally in Tulsa

Business Insider logo Business Insider 6/17/2020 insider@insider.com (Shira Feder)
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie in front of a crowd: US President Donald Trump speaks during a Keep America Great Rally at Kellogg Arena December 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Michigan. JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images © JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images US President Donald Trump speaks during a Keep America Great Rally at Kellogg Arena December 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Michigan. JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images
  • Oklahoma has seen a record increase in COVID-19 cases, with 259 new cases reported over 24 hours.
  • Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in a 19,000-person arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • Experts say this event could infect many people. Research shows that indoor events are the far riskier than outdoor events, because everyone is breathing the same air.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Days before President Trump's planned indoor rally, Oklahoma has reported record spikes in cases of COVID-19.

After Vice President Mike Pence announced on Monday that the number of cases in Oklahoma "has declined precipitously," the government saw a 3% spike in cases over 24 hours, with 259 new cases as of Wednesday.

The state has seen a total of 1,146 hospitalizations and 364 deaths in the state, making it an ill-advised place to crowd thousands of people into an indoor room, because research shows indoor spaces are more dangerous than outdoors spaces.

This is in part because everyone is breathing the same stale air that is circulating around the room, and partly because people are cramped indoors.

Tulsa Department of Health © Tulsa Department of Health Tulsa Department of Health

Fact-checking website Politifact said that, not only was Pence's statement false, but that the state had seen consistently increasing case levels in June. In fact, those case levels were now the highest they'd ever been at any point during the pandemic.

"I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn't as large a concern as it is today," Tulsa Health Department's director Bruce Dart said about the rally to Tulsa World.

Research shows disease is more likely to spread at indoor gatherings

Business Insider's Hilary Brueck reported that, unlike Black Lives Matter protests, which primarily took place outdoors, indoor rallies have the potential to become "superspreader events" where many get infected.

The virus is easily passed from one person to another in enclosed spaces where people are talking and breathing in the same recirculated air.

One study found people were nearly 19 times more likely to get COVID-19 in enclosed spaces than out in fresh air, while the CDC reported that infections were associated with  "heavy breathing in close proximity."

Rally participants are being given waivers saying they "assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19" before attending.

On the CDC risk ranking, the rally fits in the highest risk category, which refers to "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."

"Personally, I wouldn't attend a large gathering right now, especially one indoors. Certainly things held indoors are less safe than things held outdoors," former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC. "But all these large gatherings are going to lead to spread. There's just no question about it."

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