WASHINGTON (Reuters) – People attending U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Oklahoma this week should wear masks, a White House adviser said on Sunday, as health experts cautioned against large gatherings such as political rallies during the coronavirus pandemic.
New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in record numbers swept through more U.S. states including Texas, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina, while Oklahoma reported record new cases over the weekend..
“It is a concern,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “People must observe the safety guidelines, OK, must. The social distancing must be observed. Face coverings in key places must be observed.”
Asked if he believed people attending Saturday’s Trump rally in Tulsa should wear masks, Kudlow said, “Well, OK, probably so.”Trump, a Republican seeking re-election in November, will resume his large campaign rallies after a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus shutdown.
The U.S. president has not appeared in public wearing a mask, which top health experts recommend as a coronavirus safety measure, and has expressed disdain for those who do.
Tulsa Health Department Director Bruce Dart said he wished the indoor rally could be put off. The virus spreads more easily indoors, especially among people in close proximity.
“COVID is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently,” Dart told the Tulsa World on Saturday. “I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who has informally advised the White House during the pandemic, said he would counsel against holding or attending large political rallies.
“We know these large gatherings are going to lead to more spread,” Gottlieb said in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“The spontaneous protests around the country are going to lead to additional spread. Certainly holding a large political rally will as well. That’s in an indoor space. It’s a confined space,” he added.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday urged organizers of large gatherings that involve “shouting, chanting or singing to strongly encourage the use of cloth face coverings to lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus.”
Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bill Berkrot