US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before departing the White House on June 20, 2020 in Washington, DC, for a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Eric Baradat | AFP | Getty Images
Six members of President Donald Trump’s advance team preparing for his Tulsa rally that kicks off Saturday evening have tested positive for coronavirus, according to his re-election campaign.
“Per safety protocols, campaign staff are tested for COVID-19 before events. Six members of the advance team tested positive out of hundreds of tests performed, and quarantine procedures were immediately implemented,” said Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s communications director.
“No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials. As previously announced, all rally attendees are given temperature checks before going through security, at which point they are given wristbands, facemasks and hand sanitizer.”
A source familiar with the matter tells NBC News the staffers have been on the ground for about a week, have not been wearing masks and have been going out to restaurants. The source says the Trump campaign is now doing contact tracing.
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather to attend his campaign rally later at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
Of the six members of the Trump advance team who tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the Tulsa rally, at least two of them are United States Secret Service agents, a law enforcement official told NBC News.
CNBC reached out to USSS for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
The news follows reports that leading members of the coronavirus task force, including White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned White House officials about the health risks of holding large-scale indoor campaign rallies.
The Trump campaign chose to proceed with the event, claiming that attendees “assume a personal risk” and “that is part of life.”
Trump’s rally in Tulsa is expected to pack up to 20,000 people inside the Bank of Oklahoma convention center.
The Trump campaign said it would be doing temperature checks for attendees and providing them with masks and hand sanitizer upon entry, but did not indicate whether social distancing measures would be implemented and said wearing masks would be optional.
More than 2.2 million people have tested positive for coronavirus in the U.S. and at least 119,475 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 10,000 people have tested positive in Oklahoma and at least 368 people have died.
The Tulsa Health Department declined to comment specifically on the rally, but said in a statement to CNBC that “the Tulsa Health Department is concerned about the safety of any large gathering of people in enclosed spaces where social distancing is difficult to maintain.”
Concerns were also raised about the event’s timing and location. Tulsa, Oklahoma is the location of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in which white mobs killed Black residents and destroyed Black-owned businesses. The rally was originally scheduled to take place on Juneteenth — a day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. — but was rescheduled.
On Friday, Trump threatened those who might protest the event.
Update: This story has been updated to reflect new information that two of the six people who tested positive may be Secret Service members.