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June 20, 2020, 2:54 p.m. EDT

Coronavirus update: U.S. case tally climbs above 2.2 million as Tulsa prepares for Trump’s indoor rally

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By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch


Getty Images
Supporters of President Donald Trump sleep while lined up to attend a campaign rally planned for Saturday.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 in the U.S. continued to climb above 2.2 million on Saturday, as Tulsa, Okla., geared up for President Donald Trump’s planned campaign rally.

The number of new cases in the U.S. rose above 30,000 on Friday for the first time since May 1, and the World Health Organization said the pandemic is actually accelerating.

WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu told reporters at a briefing that the agency had received reports of 150,000 new cases around the world on Thursday, and said that about half of those new cases came from the Americas.

“The world is in a new and dangerous phase,” Tedros said. “We call on all countries and all people to exercise extreme vigilance.”

In Tulsa, the number of cases also hit a new high on Friday .

A group of local business owners and residents, worried at the prospect of a fresh outbreak of infections at the 19,000-seat indoor arena if attendees do not observe the safety guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had sued the owner of the venue to block it, but a Tulsa County judge denied their request for an injunction. The group appealed the decision with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which ruled that the event can go ahead and rejected a request that attendees be ordered to wear face masks and remain at least 6 feet away from everyone else, as the BBC reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines for reopening safely last Friday, and identified the highest risk of spreading the virus as stemming from: “large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.”

From the CDC: Considerations for Daily Life and Considerations for Events and Gatherings

Trump’s rallies tend to involve attendees queuing outside for hours before going through security and into arenas, where they cheer, shout and chant, all risk factors for spreading the droplets that contain the virus. The Trump campaign has acknowledged that risk by insisting that those who attend sign legal waivers absolving Trump and his staff of any blame, if people get sick or are injured.

Read: What we do know — and don’t know — about the coronavirus at Day 100 of the pandemic

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, reiterated in an interview with the Washington Post his message that Americans should continue to observe social distancing, frequently was their hands and cover their faces in public.

“When you have a congregation of people, you increase the risk. It doesn’t matter why they’re congregating or where they’re congregating. When you have a congregation of people in a setting in which there’s active virus circulating in the community, you are at risk. You need to wear a mask.”

For more on Tulsa, read: Trump rally attendees dismiss heat and coronavirus concerns as they line up outside Tulsa arena

Face masks have been caught up in a culture skirmish that has seen many resist wearing them, including President Donald Trump, who has theorized this week that some Americans are wearing them not for stemming the spread of a deadly virus but to express displeasure with him. The White House has been criticized for failing to push the message that masks are an important means of containing the spread of COVID-19, although local officials have stepped into the vacuum.

Read: Despite concerning data, White House continues to play down coronavirus worries

California Gov. Gavin Newsom made them mandatory for Californians when they’re in public on Thursday.

Fauci said the virus is “one of the most highly transmissible viruses that we know of,” and urged Americans to pull together and work to get the outbreak under control. “It’s tough for everyone. But remember, we are in this all together. We’re not just separate individual components. We’re in it together.”

Don’t miss: 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic: 5 critical mistakes that created the biggest public health crisis in a generation

Latest tallies

There are now 8.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and at least 460,783 people have died, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. At least 4.3 million people have recovered.

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