Six members of Donald Trump’s campaign team have tested positive for coronavirus ahead of his first election rally since lockdown, which will be attended by 10,000 supporters.
While some parts of the world are experiencing a second COVID-19 spike, much of America is still ascending the first curve.
And this has led many to question the safety of a mass gathering in Tulsa, Oklahoma, even if social distancing and masks are encouraged.
These fears are unlikely to have been assuaged by a statement from Tim Murtaugh, communication director for the Donald Trump Campaign, hours before the president was due to appear.
“Per safety protocols, campaign staff are tested for COVID-19 before events,” the statement said. “Six members of the advance team tested positive out of hundreds of tests performed, and quarantine procedures were immediately implemented.
“No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials.
“As previously announced, all rally attendees are given temperature checks before going through security, at which point they are given wristbands, facemasks and hand sanitiser.”
Large crowds gathered hours before the president was due to appear at the BOK stadium, around midnight UK time.
Those in attendance were asked to agree to waive their rights to sue the Trump campaign should they catch coronavirus.
Oklahoma and the city of Tulsa are still experiencing a daily upward trend of cases.
At least 10,040 people have tested positive in the state and 368 people have died.
Sky’s Mark Stone said: “Here in Tulsa County in Oklahoma, today they reported their highest-ever number of cases.
“And so with that backdrop, I think by any measure it is an unusual decision by Donald Trump and his team to hold the rally in the stadium.”
He added: “Some people here are wearing masks, but most people are not and on top of that, many are actually asking us why we are wearing masks – inferring that as part of the ‘fake news’ we are compounding what they see as a fake virus.”
The American president suspended his early campaign rallies for the November election in April because of the pandemic.
But tweeting about tonight’s rally, he said: “Big crowds and lines already forming in Tulsa. My campaign hasn’t started yet. It starts on Saturday night in Oklahoma!”
The BOK stadium has a capacity of 19,000. Organisers have said 10,000 people will be permitted to enter. Sanitiser will be on offer as will masks, but they will not be compulsory.
Many thousands more are expected to gather outside where they have been queuing since Wednesday.