The president vowed this morning that he won’t be “COVID-shamed” by critics about his rally in Tulsa, certainly not after the left threw out the social-distancing playbook to accommodate the George Floyd protests.

But the shaming has worked a little.

First came Trump’s tweet…

…but then came this notable follow-up from campaign manager Brad Parscale:

Last week, reporting on the announcement of the rally, the Times noted that aides planned to provide some “modest” measures aimed at limiting infection, like hand sanitizer, but “Trump campaign officials are unlikely to put into place any social distancing measures for rally attendees, or require them to wear masks.” Now here’s Parscale revealing that masks will actually be handed out to attendees and that temperature checks will be performed on everyone. That’s great news. But what changed their minds?

Was it … this?

In an interview with the Tulsa World on Saturday, [Tulsa City-County Health Department director] Dr. Bruce Dart said Tulsa is seeing a “significant increase in our case trends” that makes a large gathering like the rally dangerous for not only attendees, but the president himself.

“I think it’s an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,” said Dart. “I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.”…

“COVID is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently,” Dart said. “I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”

Cases in Tulsa are still minimal for a city its size but the trend isn’t great, with the seven-day average more than doubling between June 7 and last week. The Tulsa World piled on with an editorial today warning Trump that it’s the wrong place and wrong time for a rally: “Tulsa is still dealing with the challenges created by a pandemic. The city and state have authorized reopening, but that doesn’t make a mass indoor gathering of people pressed closely together and cheering a good idea… It will be our health care system that will have to deal with whatever effects follow.” Health experts dislike the idea too:

The risk of viral spread at a rally like the one President Trump has planned for next weekend in Oklahoma is much higher, the experts said, because the rally will be indoors in a large arena and there will no requirement that attendees wear masks.

“It’s a perfect storm setup: the idea of tons of people, where one sick person can have an impact of generating secondary cases on this immense level, where it’s indoors, where there’s no ventilation,” Dr. [Nahid] Bhadelia said. “I would move it to the outdoors, I would reduce the number of people, I would introduce social distancing, and I would require everybody to wear a mask.”

The fact that they’re holding the rally indoors is mystifying to me. If not for that, they’d have a very good analogue to the mass demonstrations happening across the country. The only meaningful difference would be the fact that Trump’s crowd would be stationary throughout the event whereas protesters are usually in motion. But not always: There have been various rallies over the past few weeks where people have stood still to listen to speakers. Why didn’t Team Trump insist on holding their event at an open-air stadium?

ABC asked Anthony Fauci about the upcoming rally. What could he say except that it’s risky?

Parscale’s masks-for-everyone move is a smart way to beat back some of the criticism. Holding a mass gathering indoors while implementing basic hygiene precautions is arguably negligent; holding the same rally *without* taking precautions is reckless. And I use those words advisedly. I wonder if Team Trump’s lawyers warned them that failing to provide attendees with masks and temperature checks might create liability issues later if there’s an outbreak in Tulsa that’s traced back to the rally. The Trump campaign is worried enough about that scenario that they’ve included a liability waiver as part of their application for tickets, but if they end up in court anyway, their defense will surely be stronger if all attendees were supplied with masks and hand sanitizer than if they weren’t.

Plus, this is a good branding opportunity, both for Trump and for the country. Don’t forget that MAGA masks already exist:

I assume that’s what will be handed out on Saturday. Imagine Trump looking out at a sea of those looking back at him. It might make those masks fashionable among Trumpers watching the event at home. More broadly, it might make some righties who’ve been reluctant to wear masks until now more willing to put one on if they see a crowd of like-minded people on TV donning masks en masse.

Lotta suspense now, though: Will attendees be encouraged to actually wear the mask at the rally? Or is this a check-the-box thing where Team Trump covers its ass by handing them out but then most of the crowd refuses to wear one in defiance of “political correctness” or whatever moronic excuse is being used to discourage them? If there are few masks donned at an event where everyone’s been supplied with one on their way in, by the president’s own campaign, it’ll say a lot about how nihilistic pandemic populism has turned. It’s one thing to damage yourself in the name of spiting the libs by burning applications for absentee ballots, it’s another to do it by putting your own health at risk.

Exit quotation from CNN: “Researchers in Florida say they believe they have shown that the new coronavirus has mutated in a way that makes it more easily infect human cells.”