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Tulsa, Okla., prepares for Trump visit with health precautions, closures

President Donald Trump addresses supporters at a rally on February 28 at the North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina. He's scheduled to hold his first rally since coronavirus lockdowns on Saturday. File Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI
President Donald Trump addresses supporters at a rally on February 28 at the North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina. He's scheduled to hold his first rally since coronavirus lockdowns on Saturday. File Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

June 19 (UPI) -- As President Donald Trump readies for his first rally since the coronavirus pandemic shut down large, public gatherings, the city of Tulsa, Okla., is preparing for the health implications of such an event and planned protests.

Saturday's event is expected to bring about 19,000 supporters to downtown Tulsa's BOK Center, the maximum capacity of the arena.

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That'll leave little room for social distancing, something public health officials say is a key technique for preventing the spread of COVID-19. So is wearing facial coverings, but the venue isn't mandating that all attendees wear them.

The BOK Center said it's encouraging all attendees to wear facial coverings and is providing 400 hand-sanitizing stations throughout the arena. All those working the event will have their temperatures checked and be provided with personal protective equipment. The venue also set up plexiglass partitions to protect workers at concession stations, and staff will repeatedly clean and disinfect surfaces throughout the event.

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The venue also asked the Trump campaign for precautions it plans to take as the president's team comes to town.

"We've received a letter from arena management and we're reviewing it," said a statement from Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign's director of communications.

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"We take safety seriously, which is why we're doing temperature checks for everyone attending, and providing masks and hand sanitizer. This will be a Trump rally, which means a big, boisterous, excited crowd. We don't recall the media shaming demonstrators about social distancing -- in fact the media were cheering them on."

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In addition to the health precautions at the arena, the city is preparing for demonstrations. Trump's rally coincides with a three-day Juneteenth celebration in Tulsa, which will feature civil rights leader Al Sharpton.

There also will be a "Rally Against Hate" opposing Trump at Veteran's Park during Saturday's rally.

In addition to Tulsa police, the FBI and Secret Service being on hand for the weekend's events, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt activated the National Guard to be present. About 240 troops will be present during the rally.

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Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum originally implemented a curfew starting 10 p.m. Thursday and ending 6 a.m. Saturday. But after speaking to Trump on Friday afternoon, the mayor said he rescinded the curfew.

"Last night, I enacted a curfew at the request of Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, following consultation with the United States Secret Service based on intelligence they had received," the mayor said. "Today, we were told the curfew is no longer necessary so I am rescinding it."

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City officials also closed down streets to vehicle traffic around the BOK Center for the weekend.

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Bynam took to Facebook on Friday to encourage Tulsans to consider one another as they attend the weekend's event.

"As you go through this weekend, please keep in mind what every person you encounter has been through over the last few months," he said.

"We are all living through a national recession. We are all living in a country that is finally coming to terms with centuries of racial disparity. We are all trying to rebuild our lives and the part we play in communities that are forever changed," he said.

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Visitors wear face masks as they tour the Whitney Museum of American Art as it reopens on September 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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