Oklahoma health department urges virus testing after events

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Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 4:09 PM CDT
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A day after President Donald Trump held a campaign rally at an indoor arena in the city of Tulsa, the Oklahoma State Department of Health urged anyone who has recently attended a large-scale event to be tested for the coronavirus.

The department did not specify any event in its news release sent late Sunday.

Nearly 6,200 people attended Trump’s rally at Tulsa’s BOK Center on Saturday night. The campaign did not require attendees to wear face masks to guard against the spread of the coronavirus. And just hours before the rally began, the campaign announced that six staffers had tested positive.

The state health department recommends that people take a test before and after attending such events and encourages participants to wear face masks and practice social distancing. The Trump campaign handed out masks to attendees as they arrived, but the majority did not wear one, including the president.

“Personal responsibility remains key in protecting yourself and our local communities from COVID-19. We continue to encourage Oklahomans to consider wearing a mask, to routinely wash hands, and to use physical distancing measures,” interim state Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said in the news release.

“As a society, we face a delicate balance of creating a new normal that takes into account public health, mental health, and economic risks. It will take all of us working together, as one State, to overcome the many challenges COVID-19 presents until there is a widely available vaccine,” according to Frye, who warned of a surge in coronavirus cases after the state began reopening in late April.

There were at least 10,733 confirmed cases of the virus in the state and 369 deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the health department reported Monday, an increase of 218 cases and one death from Sunday.

The actual number of people who have contracted the virus is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.