Today, the Oklahoma State Department of Health added 331 cases to its statewide Covid-19 tally. That means the total of people sick with the virus across Oklahoma now comes in at just over 10,000.
The data, however, will do nothing to stop President Donald Trump’s planned rally tonight at Tulsa’s BOK Center, which can pack in a crowd of nearly 20,000 and which, its staff concerned about the spread of the disease, demanded from the Trump campaign an outline of how the event will be made safe.
Indeed, a lawsuit filed by a group of local individuals, some of whom are immunocompromised, and businesses had sought legally enforced social distancing and mask-wearing at the event, but the Oklahoma Supreme Court shot down that attempt last night, presumably in the interest of protecting people’s freedom.
In lieu of legally enforced health and safety regulations—not exactly in high fashion in the deep red Sooner State—the Trump campaign has pledged to provide a mask plus hand sanitizer to every Trumper in attendance. As well, there will be temperature checks conducted at the doors.
But I don’t think any fans who’ve come down with Trump Fever will be able to stay away.
Notably, while the crowd is packed inside the BOK Center like sardines, they will have no ability to social distance—a detail that should help to explain why all the event’s ticket buyers were compelled to sign a waiver.
This is madness to the nth degree—every aspect of it; every last inane, delusional detail.
For starters, the event, ostensibly a Trump campaign stop, is really just a forum for the president to emit the noxious gases of his ego, which have a way of spreading every bit as aggressively as Covid-19, if not more. At his rallies, he is famous for talking about himself and his “greatness” more than his policies or the American people, and one imagines that if he goes without a fawning audience for too long, the poor guy goes even crazier than usual.
Ego’s not all, though. In its slapdash assortment of disease-curbing provisions, the event is resolutely anti-science, not only positioned to spread the disease and Trump’s ravings, but the message that defying self-protection is OK.
It’s not. Masks should be mandatory, as they are here in California, rather than optional, as they’ll be at the event. In any case, masks or no masks, sanitizer or no sanitizer, thermometers or no thermometers, the event, on account of its manic size and scale, is shaping up to be a super spreader, meaning it’ll crank out fresh disease cases like a McDonald’s pumping out fresh hamburgers (and for anyone who’s apathetic since Oklahoma’s “far away,” just note how far the virus had to travel to first arrive here).
There’s more. It’s one thing to be reckless, and willfully anti-science, but it’s another, more darkly cynical form of distortion on the part of Trump’s team to paint the rally as wholesomely pro-freedom. In other words, per their messaging, in America, land of the free and…I forget the other part, you should be free to gather as much as you are free to stay home. Such is fair, and just, and resolutely American, and ain’t no dang virus gonna take away our rights.
America, however, has long protected its people’s right to life—a term I use with intention since Republicans stand united as the party against abortion. In addition to their concern over the welfare of unborn fetuses, Republicans, by and large, to the best of my knowledge, aren’t in an apoplectic state of rage over the posted speed limits on American roads, or our country’s widespread laws banning murder, or the FDA’s long-standing interest in the safety of our drugs and food.
What gets me most, however, are these cartoonish waivers. Talk about an act of strong-arming posing as a grant of freedom. Dangling the prospect of seeing a famous celebrity (leader?) in front of people (one which, I hasten to add, got a million Americans fired up), then covertly acknowledging that seeing him may in fact be deadly by asking people to make a health decision around the act, but providing a false sense of empowerment by leaving the signers’ fates in their own hands.
How very American. My wife signed one such waiver once. They were about to wheel her into the C-section room. Only in that case, the doctors were taking an urgent action, one that could have resulted in harm to her or the baby. It was, in other words, an emergency. And the procedure, given the state of the baby’s heartbeat, was a necessity.
There’s nothing necessary about this rally in Tulsa.
And the biggest emergency here is our goddamn president.