The group of Donald Trump supporters camped out to see the president's first campaign rally in months grew larger and louder on Thursday.
"Four more years! Four more years!"
The Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is set to be the biggest indoor event in the country since pandemic restrictions were imposed in March, and these Trump supporters weren't going to miss it even if their health depended on it.
"The United States needs to be open. We need our freedom. We need our freedom to make our choices, you know? The country needs to open up, all the way. We can't be afraid of this... China virus or whatever you guys want to call it. I'm not afraid of it at all."
"I knew this would be a big rally and wanted to get a seat in this. Over 1 million tickets being requested for this. So I wanted to be here early. This ain't nothing. I mean, what our president does for us. Every day he sacrifice for us. Every one of us. No matter who we are, whether we are black, white, Asian, yellow. He don't care."
"As soon as Oklahoma was on the books, I decided I want to come here because I haven't seen a rally in Oklahoma and I've never been to Oklahoma. So, one of the reason I kind of want to see, too, is how are they going to set this up? Is it going to be like the rallies that we know, like in the past that we've been going to, like the ones we went to in February? Or are they going to have, like chairs on the floor? Like spread out like that? Or are they going to have everybody together like we were?"
Public health experts and some local officials are worried that thousands of shouting, chanting people inside an arena - particularly if many aren’t wearing masks - could turn Trump’s rally into a so-called “super-spreader event” in a in a state that reported a record number of new cases this week.
But Trump, in a Fox News interview on Wednesday night, repeated a claim he has made in the past that the coronavirus is "fading away."
"The federal government's attitude is an undeniable mistake."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday slammed the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus epidemic.
"The White House from day one has been operating on a pure political ideology."
Cuomo also said New York continued to make progress, with fewer than 1% of more than 68,000 people tested on Wednesday coming back positive.
"Lowest percent positive since we have started."
And in another sign of progress, Cuomo said his daily briefings, which have propelled him into the national spotlight, will end on Friday.
"We now have the virus under control. Yeah, but Florida doesn't and Texas doesn't. These other states don't... This country has to wake up. Wake up and smell the coffee."
Several U.S. states including Florida, Arizona and Texas have reported a surge in new infections over the past two weeks, after more than a month of declines.
Florida reported a record-shattering 3,207 new cases on Thursday.
While Arizona reported more than 2,500 new infections - a new single-day high.
And in Texas, Thursday marked the seventh consecutive day the state reported a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
And, after Oklahoma, all three of those states are scheduled to be the locations for Trump's next campaign rallies.