Covid Presser

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum speaks during a coronavirus briefing in Tulsa. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced on Facebook this morning that he will not “attempt to block” President Donald Trump’s campaign rally scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at the BOK Center.

The announcement comes after the Tulsa Health Department’s director, who has been among Bynum’s advisers during the COVID-19 pandemic, urged a postponement of the event due to the recent surge in cases in Tulsa County.

The mayor wrote that he will not "attempt to block the state government or the President of the United States by invoking the local civil emergency authority in our city ordinance. That authority was used earlier this year."

In that message, Bynum expressed his concern about having an event with thousands of people and said he wasn’t asked about the possibility of an event before the invitation was extended to the Trump campaign.

“Was the nation’s first large campaign rally after the arrival of COVID-19 my idea? No.” Bynum wrote. “I didn’t even know the invitation had been extended until BOK Center management contacted the City regarding Police support for the event.

“Do I share anxiety about having a full house at the BOK Center? Of course. As someone who is cautious by nature, I don’t like to be the first to try anything. I would have loved some other city to have proven the safety of such an event already.”

Bynum noted that Tulsa has been following state guidelines since the phased-in reopening process for industries. That process began in Tulsa May 1.

"The Trump campaign has agreed to follow those guidelines as well, and will be utilizing safety precautions at the event," Bynum wrote. "Every attendee will have to pass a temperature check before they can enter the facility. Every attendee will be provided with a mask. Every attendee will have access to hand sanitizer stations. We are not going to suddenly abandon the state’s plan, to be either more lenient or more severe."

In his message, Bynum addressed the impact of the restrictions the city of Tulsa imposed in the early stages of the pandemic. He wrote that Tulsans “collectively undertook great sacrifice to ‘flatten the curve.’”

The restrictions limited the number of people in crowds and urged social distancing. The limitations led to the closure of businesses and a surge in unemployment throughout the area and the state.

Bynum wrote that the “work that Tulsans did during that time accomplished our goal: our local health care systems received the time they needed to prepare for the long haul.

The main threat during a phased-in reopening is hospital capacity, Bynum wrote.

“We want to continue to protect the ability of our local health care system to serve those in greatest need of medical assistance,” he wrote. “Our hospitalization rate peaked in April and was on a downward trajectory even through the early stages of reopening.

“It has started to rise, but it remains comparatively low and our local hospital officials assure me their capacity remains strong. On Sunday, OSU Medical Center’s 120 COVID beds held 3 patients.”

Tulsa’s number of newly reported COVID-19 cases has surged in recent weeks. On Monday, the health department reported the highest single-day total (89) of new cases since the pandemic began.

The recent spike in cases has doubled April’s peak, when the seven-day rolling average reached a high of 25.7 on April 5. On Monday, the Tulsa Health Department reported the highest average number of cases in the county to date – 65.3.

Oklahoma entered phase 3 of its reopening plan, a plan that Tulsa has followed, on June 1. Since the final day of May, Tulsa County’s seven-day rolling average of newly reported COVID-19 cases is up nearly 400% — going from 13.7 on May 31 to 65.3 in Monday’s report.


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