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Public health expert: Trump Tulsa rally met 'all' of criteria for 'highest-risk gatherings'

The Hill logo The Hill 6/21/2020 Zack Budryk
Donald Trump standing in front of a crowd: Public health expert: Trump Tulsa rally met 'all' of criteria for 'highest-risk gatherings' © Getty Images Public health expert: Trump Tulsa rally met 'all' of criteria for 'highest-risk gatherings'

Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said on Sunday that President Trump's Saturday night rally, his first since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, met several criteria for increased risk of transmitting the virus.

"I thought the rally was concerning in terms of public health risk," Inglesby said on "Fox News Sunday." "The highest-risk gatherings are those that are large, indoors and where people can't stay apart from each other six feet and where people travel from out of town and this rally met all of those criteria."

"People were sitting quite close to each other, I didn't see many people wearing masks, people [were] handshaking without hand-sanitizer, lots of shouting, all of those things will increase the risk of spread," Inglesby added.

Fox News' Chris Wallace asked whether there was "hypocrisy" in public health experts' attitudes toward the rally compared to the concerns about protests that have swept the nation in the weeks since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

"I am worried about that, I know that many people in the public health community are worried about a chance for a big health event," Inglesby said. "They shouldn't depend on [the politics of] the gathering that's being held."

However, he added, "I think it's more than a little bit different than having a large indoor gathering ... We know that outdoor risks are less than indoor risks and if people can maintain their space then that will help but certainly I think there is a risk for large-scale protesting as well."

Wallace also noted that tentative data from the sites of large protests like Minneapolis and New York City show no major spikes in spread of the virus since the protests began about three weeks ago.

Inglesby responded that it was "a little bit too soon to say whether the protests have led to increased cases although I am very glad the initial studies do seem to show there isn't an increase of spread."

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