Trump returns to rally stage despite coronavirus concerns

Trump returns to rally stage despite coronavirus concerns

President Donald Trump, addressing a less-than-full arena for his first political rally in months, blasted anti-racism protests and defended his handling of the coronavirus on Saturday in a bid to reinvigorate his re-election campaign.

He continued, accusing the media of being "negative" and discouraging people from attending the rally, which is happening as coronavirus cases continue to grow in the United States.

Thousands of people, many wearing MAGA hats and waving American flags, arrived at Tulsa's Bank of Oklahoma Center arena, while a group of protesters chanted "Black lives matter" near one of the site's entrances. "The majority of people who made them deleted them after the first day because we didn't want the Trump campaign to catch wind".

"Here is the bad part: When you do testing to that extent, you are going to find more people, you will find more cases", he told the cheering crowd.

The Trump campaign said six staff members helping prepare for the event tested positive for Covid-19. Indeed, the inside of the stadium was reported to be half-empty by the time Trump got on stage.

The pandemic was one issue Mr Trump touched on in his wide-ranging, nearly two-hour-long speech to cheering supporters in Oklahoma, a Republican heartland.

Trump's campaign event was the subject of mockery as well.

Oklahoma was among the first states to reopen in April and has remained open even as COVID-19 cases have increased dramatically in recent weeks.

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. He fumed that he had been led to believe he would see huge crowds in deep-red Oklahoma, according to two White House and campaign officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

The country's racial divide remains a political vulnerability for Trump.

The Saturday rally also came as U.S. states and cities have begun removing statues of Confederate figures amid a national reckoning over police brutality and racism sparked by the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, who died on May 25 after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.

There were people at the entrance who were checking temperatures and handing out masks, but they required no one to wear them.

Parscale said in a statement the campaign weeds out bogus phone numbers and that they did this with "tens of thousands" at the Tulsa event in calculating possible attendance.

Trump's campaign declared that it had received over a million ticket requests and the city of Tulsa prepared for an overflow crowd.

But areas outside the arena appeared to be sparsely populated about an hour before the president's arrival. The crowd that gathered was far less than that, though the rally, being broadcast on cable, will also target voters in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

He went on to describe testing for the coronavirus as a "double-edged sword" - saying that 25 million people had been tested in the USA but "when you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people, you're going to find more cases, so I said to my people "slow the testing down please". "If I'm thinking about Trump, I can't be thinking about this, about a brighter future".

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