Trump supporters rally in Tulsa amid rising racial tensions, COVID-19 resurgence

The upper section of the arena is seen partially empty as US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center

Trump fans defy virus warnings at rally, even as staffers test positive

Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted last week that more than 1 million people had requested tickets for the event, which had initially been planned for Juneteenth and rescheduled after a swift backlash. "Six members of the advance team tested positive out of hundreds of tests performed, and quarantine procedures were immediately implemented".

Anticipating an overflowing crowd, the campaign had even prepared a stage outside Tulsa's BOK Center where the President could address supporters.

The event - which the White House promised would be flooded with up to 100 000 people, but actually did not fill the 19 000-seat arena where Trump spoke - has emerged as a flashpoint in the pandemic era.

The comment was premature.

Trump officials had expected large numbers to turn out, with Mr Parscale tweeting last week that they had received 800,000 applications for tickets.

In a rare concession, the Trump campaign too acknowledged attendance fell short of expectations.

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The stakes Saturday could not be higher - both for the health of thousands spending hours at the arena and Trump's political fortunes five months before an election in which he trails in the polls.

Attendees of the rally, who have been asked to sign a waiver releasing the Trump campaign from responsibility for possible exposure to the coronavirus, received a mask from organizers before entering the event, but majority didn't wear it inside the arena, which can hold 19,000 people.

Local public health officials urged Trump to cancel the rally, which creates a confluence of risk factors for contracting the disease - extended periods of time indoors and people chanting or cheering in close proximity to one another. "We got tests, "We got another one over here".

Trump warned Friday that the rally aimed to focus on reopening the coronavirus-hit economy, and that any "protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes" who traveled to Oklahoma would be firmly dealt with.

At least one swing state governor, meanwhile, says Trump would not be welcome to host a rally in her state amid the pandemic.

President Donald Trump's return to the campaign trail was created to show strength and enthusiasm heading into the critical final months before an election that will decide whether he remains in the White House.

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The virus has since killed almost 120,000 Americans and hugely disrupted a once-booming economy, which had been Trump's strongest re-election selling point.

The event comes after weeks of protests about racial inequality, and as the U.S. continues to battle a pandemic.

Trump has suggested it should be banned as a terrorist organisation, though as Antifa is not a centralised network is it unclear how this would work.

"President Trump is rallying in Tulsa with thousands of energetic supporters, a stark contrast to the sleepy campaign being run by Joe Biden from his basement in Delaware", Mr. But the smaller-than-expected crowds may only increase GOP worries. New cases have recently risen in several states, but not just due to testing.

But Trump shocked his political opponent when he said that he asked his administration to "slow the testing down please" to lower the number of reported cases. "As previously announced, all rally attendees are given temperature checks before going through security, at which point they are given wristbands, facemasks and hand sanitizer", Murtaugh said. The BOK Center, where the rally took place, has a capacity of a little over 19,000, however, estimates from those at the rally and from the Tulsa Fire Department place the number attended at somewhere around 6,000.

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