A reporter for investigative nonprofit news organization the Oklahoma Watch who attended President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa on 20 June revealed on Friday that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Paul Monies went on Twitter to voice his surprise at receiving his positive diagnosis, adding he was not experiencing any symptoms of the respiratory disease.
Friends, I tested positive for #COVID19. I’m pretty surprised. I have zero symptoms (so far) and I feel fine. In fact, I ran 5 miles this morning. I spent the last few hours calling people I know I’ve been in contact with in the last 14 days. Be safe out there. 😷 https://t.co/oGpKsGs5u0— Paul Monies (@pmonies) June 26, 2020
The journalist, who was quoted by the Associated Press as claiming he never approached President Trump at the event, said he spent around 6 hours on Saturday at the BOK Center, wearing a mask and mostly practicing social distancing.
Monies also added he had been getting in touch with people he recalled having come into contact with during the last 14 days, adding, “Be safe out there.”
Netizens weighed in on the news, with many expressing concern, while others weighed in on the mask debate amid the pandemic.
I am sorry you tested positive but I am very grateful that you are calling people in your circle to let them know. All the best.— Tooey (@SueRic2) June 26, 2020
Probably had it already and gave it to others at the rally.— Patty Lane (@PattyLa30669279) June 27, 2020
If you’ve had zero symptoms, why did you get tested? Did you wear a mask at the rally?— TeslaMD (@langdon) June 27, 2020
This begs the question; were you wearing a mask during the entire rally? Do you know how you were exposed?— Don Lauren (@OlaurdDon) June 27, 2020
So you wore a mask and it did nothing to protect you?— ZBInc. (@ZariBanksInc) June 27, 2020
You wear a mask to protect others, not yourself.— Richard Mize (@RichardMize) June 27, 2020
Experts Sound Alarm Ahead of Rally
Before the Tulsa event, six of Donald Trump’s campaign staffers enlisted to organize the rally tested positive for COVID-19.
As Trump geared up for the first rally since the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc with the 2020 election campaign schedule, leading US public health experts cited concerns that the potentially crowded event could create a COVID-19 hotspot.
According to experts, omitting to wear a mask could sharply increase the risk of transmitting the respiratory virus, while guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insists that people should wear a mask when out in public irrespective of whether they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
The Hill reported that many people observed at the rally were allegedly not wearing masks.
Donald Trump had earlier downplayed the risks his rally entailed amid the coronavirus epidemic, saying his campaign would provide free masks to be used by attendees at their own discretion.
“I recommend people do what they want. I don't feel that I'm in danger. I’ve met a lot, a lot of people, and so far here I sit,” said Trump in an interview for Axios.
The president had touted the rally as sending a message to state leaders that they have “got to open up our country”.
“We have to get back to business. We have to get back to living our lives. Can't do this any longer… And I do believe it’s safe. I do believe it’s very safe.”
Coronavirus cases in the US have been on the rise, with the past week registering an average of 31,700 new cases daily.
According to the Johns Hopkins University data, there are currently over 2,510,300 confirmed cases of the virus in the US with at least 125,500 confirmed deaths.
In Tulsa County, the tracker has identified at least 3,103 confirmed cases.