The event was supposed to be a representation of Trump’s belief that the country was back from the brink of disaster, as the former president repeatedly predicted that the coronavirus would “disappear” in warm weather.
“A leased plane flew in a host of surrogates, and film crews were also en route to record soaring moments for campaign ads,” the book said, describing the expectations for the rally. They were going to use the rally to show that Trump had led the country out of the pandemic and back to life.
Around noon, nurses arrived to the tents to test the staff and the VIP’s that would be around Trump throughout the event — and one by one, people were coming up positive.
“When the news about the positive tests was first reported that afternoon, the president was livid,” the book said. Immediately, the campaign staff went to the nurses and “interrogated” them.
“Had any of them discussed the results with reporters?” they asked, according to the book. “How had this information gotten out? The health-care workers administering the tests were insulted. More curious, however, they were then given a new list of people who needed to be tested. Some staff said the new list appeared much shorter than the original.”
Instead of distancing people, locking the event down, refusing to allow positive people to enter and a slew of other public health-friendly ideas, the campaign stopped testing.
“The campaign immediately clamped down on testing to prevent discovering who else might be infected,” said the book. “Word was passed throughout the Trump team that afternoon: remaining staff were not to get tested in Tulsa, but rather to wait until they returned home to headquarters in Arlington.”
“‘The president wants this to stop,’ a campaign staffer told an Oklahoma VIP who had arrived to get tested.”
Ironically, the Tulsa rally was where Trump infamously advocated an end to testing to keep COVID cases from increasing. Trump didn’t seem to understand that the cases and deaths would continue whether or not people were tested. In fact, the test would help stop the spread, because people could self-quarantine and public health experts could get into communities with PPE and information to those unknowingly spreading the virus.
“Testing is a double-edged sword,” Trump told Tulsa that night. “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.'”
After the rally, Tulsa as a community experienced an increase in cases.