Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, two of the most prominent members of the White House coronavirus task force, advised President Donald Trump against holding a massive indoor rally Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., NBC News reports.
Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, and Birx, the task force response coordinator, both expressed concerns about the safety of holding a rally with as many as 19,000 people in an enclosed arena, the news outlet reported.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Friday denied a legal request to require social distancing be enforced at the rally.
Trump and his campaign advisers claim attendees “assume a personal risk” and “that is part of life,” NBC News reported.
It’s been nearly two months since the last coronavirus task force briefing and four weeks since Birx answered questions about the coronavirus pandemic from the White House briefing room.
According to NBC, Fauci and Birx have voiced a desire to continue making appearances at White House press briefings, but Trump is “annoyed” at the comments Fauci has made.
The frustration has often erupted on social media. On Friday, Trump tweeted “Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football,” after Fauci told CNN it would be "very hard" for the NFL to have a season safely without having players in a "bubble," which the league currently does not have plans for.
Trump has been touting his rally as the start of his reelection effort — and the return to the huge gatherings that were the centerpiece of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and continued through his presidency. Trump began increasing their frequency in late 2019 -- until the coronavirus forced the campaign to suspend them in March.
But Trump’s political aides are worried about the narrative that may emerge if there’s a significant spike in cases in Oklahoma following the rally, NBC News reported, citing unnamed sources.
Next week, the president is headlining another large-scale event with thousands of students in a Phoenix megachurch, NBC News noted.
The state has seen a steady uptick in cases this week, with back-to-back records for single-day increases Thursday and Friday, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, NBC News reported.
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