Did Donald Trump prioritize favorable optics over public health? It's definitely believable.
According to a recent Washington Post report, the president's campaign not only failed to enforce social distancing at last week's Tulsa rally, it also took steps to thwart them. The outlet reports that hours before Trump took the stage, workers at the BOK Center in Tulsa had labeled thousands of arena seats with stickers that read, "Do Not Sit Here Please!" They were intended to encourage social distancing between attendees and prevent further spread of the coronavirus; however, an anonymous source claims members of the Trump campaign removed the stickers before rally-goers entered.
Video obtained by the Post supports the allegation, as two men are seen inside the rally removing the stickers that were placed on every other seat. The men have not been identified.
Doug Thornton, a senior executive for the firm that owns the BOK Center, confirmed the report to Billboard: "They also told us that they didn't want any signs posted saying we should social distance in the venue."
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told the Post that the campaign had taken precautionary measures to ensure the safety of all rally-goers. But he didn't address the alleged sticker removal.
"The rally was in full compliance with local requirements," he said. "In addition, every rally attendee received a temperature check prior to admission, was given a face mask, and provided ample access to hand sanitizer."
The Tulsa Fire Department said less than 6,200 people attended Trump's Tulsa rally, which was significantly less than the 19,000 people the BOK Center can hold. Trump and his team blamed the low turnout on demonstrators, while many pointed to the public's ongoing fears of catching the coronavirus. Prior to the event, all rally-goers had to waive their rights to sue the campaign if they contracted the disease at the rally. In the week since the event went down, at least eight Trump campaign staffers had tested positive for COVID-19.