Before the Rally: thousands gather in Tulsa for Trump campaign rally

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TULSA- President Donald Trump is scheduled to have his first major campaign rally since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Tulsa today.

The rally is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., and will be held at the BOK center. According to the CDC’s website, large indoor events where it is difficult to maintain social distancing are in the highest risk category for viral transmission. According to the Oklahoma Department of Health’s website, Oklahoma has over 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of today.

Although the rally doesn’t begin until 7 p.m., supporters, police personnel, national guardsmen and media teams have been filing towards, and waiting outside of the event area. A large area around the BOK center has been closed down, and fenced off entirely. Roads are closed between 6th and Archer, and from Boulder to Lawton.

According to campaign staffers, secret service were still conducting a sweep of the area at 12:40 p.m.

Gov. Kevin Stitt arrived and gave a brief press conference around 1 p.m., where he said he wasn’t concerned about a potential increase in COVID-19 deaths related to the event. Stitt said Oklahoma had been fully reopened since June 1. He said the goal of the lockdowns was to slow the spread of the virus.

“We’ve done that,” Stitt said.

He said some increase in cases was expected with the reopening process.

“The goal was never to have zero cases,” Stitt said.

He pointed out that states who were still taking more precautions than Oklahoma also had not reached zero cases. 

“When is the right time to open back up?” is what Stitt said he would say to people who still have concerns about the speed of Oklahoma’s reopening process.

Prior to the governor’s appearance at the event, The O’Colly witnessed an apparent protestor being removed from the secured area. She was handcuffed, and wearing a black shirt that said ‘I can’t breathe’. 

Vendors selling campaign merchandise, national guardsmen, and various advertisements encircle the secure area.

Two very different advertisement vehicles, with very different messages, appeared to be circling the event area. 

One of these vehicles, a black, military style humvee with InfoWars stickers, featured a man riding halfway out of the vehicle’s top hatch, leading  chants of “no more masks”. 

Another, a truck with electronic billboards attached on three sides, doesn’t have an announcer or PA system. The truck circles silently, featuring messages warning of the dangers of holding a large rally in the middle of a pandemic. The truck features a ‘Trump Death Clock’, which claims to count the number of preventable deaths from COVID-19 that have occurred under Trump’s watch.

When the truck was last seen by The O’Colly team, it reported over 70,000 preventable deaths. 

This story will be updated if other significant events occur before the rally. For coverage of the rest of the day, watch for our “During the Rally”, and “After the Rally”, stories.