Jun 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Infectious-disease expert warns of potential health risks at Trump rally

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told "Fox News Sunday" that attendants of President Trump's upcoming campaign rally in Tulsa on June 2o may face potential exposure to the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Hundreds of people are expected to attend the president's first rally since the since pandemic began and will not be required to wear masks. This comes as multiple states are reporting new daily records of coronavirus hospitalizations.

  • Those who request tickets for the rally have received a disclaimer that confirms that by agreeing to end, they "voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19" and cannot hold the president liable.

What they're saying: "Anything that involves large crowds indoors where there is also screaming, yelling, loud voices, shouting, cheering — all which will help aerosolize this virus — I think are real challenges," Osterholm said.

  • "Let me just put it really simply: Would I want my loved ones in a setting like that? Absolutely not. And it wouldn't matter about politics or the reason why they were there — I wouldn't want them there.
  • "And I think that this again is part of the sense that we're not understanding that we have a long way to go to with this pandemic. It is not over in the next several weeks."

The big picture: At least 14 states have reported increases in new coronavirus cases of 25% or more in the last week.

  • Florida and Texas both reported record-breaking new coronavirus infections in one day last week.
  • In Florida, over 1,000 new infections have been reported every day since June 8. In Texas, government officials said last week that the outbreak in Houston is uncontrolled and poses a significant threat to the community.

"I think that what we have here today is we're not sure what's happening. We have 22 states where cases are increasing, 8 where it's level and 21 states where it's decreasing," Osterholm said.

  • "What we have to understand is that about 5% of the U.S. population has been infected to date with this virus, some locations slightly higher. This virus is not going to rest until it gets to about 60% or 70%, and when I say 'rest' I mean slow down. So, one way or another, we're going to see a lot of additional cases out there."

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