Oklahoma GOP Sen. Lankford urges elderly to avoid Tulsa Trump rally

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Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., on Wednesday advised senior citizens and others at higher risk for coronavirus to not attend President Trump's indoor rally Saturday in Tulsa.

“We’re advising people if they’re coming to the rally, if you have co-morbidities, if you are older, or you have other health issues -- don’t come,” Lankford told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." “Watch it on TV.”

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Saturday's rally is Trump's first big campaign event since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, infecting more than 2 million Americans and killing nearly 117,000 people.

But Lankford's state of Oklahoma is experiencing a record spike in new coronavirus cases. Tuesday marked the highest single-day total yet in new COVID-19 cases statewide with Tulsa County having the highest number (1,729) of confirmed cases of any county in the state, the Tulsa World reported.

COVID-19 is thought to spread through respiratory droplets unleashed into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes and speaks. The person-to-person transmission happens with a person inhales the infected droplets into their lungs.

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Transmission is considered more likely when people are in close proximity to each other and when they are indoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends face coverings for everyone going out into public and social distancing of six feet apart.

Aside from the safety concerns of holding a large indoor event, Trump was already catching heat for initially scheduling his return rally on Juneteenth, the date that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Lankford and others successfully advised Trump to reschedule the rally from June 19 to June 20 to respect the occasion.

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The Oklahoma senator urged attendees to use face masks and take safety precautions but said high-risk populations should just stay home.

"If you have other health issues, I discourage you from coming to the event," Lankford said. "But a lot of folks, I believe, are coming and the state is very excited about receiving the president."