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President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20, 2020. (AP) President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20, 2020. (AP)

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20, 2020. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher July 2, 2020

No, Oklahoma didn’t have 100% COVID-positive test rate after Trump’s Tulsa rally

If Your Time is short

A website article quoted MSNBC host Chris Hayes, who later admitted he misread the data.

President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., was notable for being his first since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, and for attracting far fewer people than expected.

But the June 20 indoor rally, where many attendees did not wear masks, did not lead to a 100% test rate for COVID-19, as a headline briefly claimed.

This was the original headline on a PoliticusUSA.com article on June 29: "Oklahoma 100% coronavirus test rate after Trump Tulsa rally."

The original post — shared more than 253,000 times, according to PoliticusUSA — was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The article quoted MSNBC talk show host Chris Hayes as saying on June 29: 

"Yesterday in Oklahoma, they tested 352 people for the coronavirus, and every single test came back positive. Today they tested another 178 people, and all those tests came back positive, too.

"If you can’t do the math in your head, that's a 100% positive rate."

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But three days later, on July 2, the website revised the article and replaced the original headline with this: 

"Correction: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Misinterpreted Oklahoma Virus Test Data."

The revised article quotes Hayes as correcting himself. 

Here’s what Hayes said on his show, per a July 2 tweet from the show: 

"On Monday, I said that in Oklahoma, authorities tested 352 people for coronavirus over the weekend and found every test positive. They then tested another 178 people and found them all positive, as well. I was so incredulous over those numbers, I even checked the website of the Oklahoma State Department of Health to confirm those numbers before we went on air. Indeed, that is what is on the official website. We weren’t wrong. That’s what they report. The problem is, there is a lag in the way that Oklahoma reports its data. With fewer, but almost entirely positive tests being reported on the weekends, and then larger numbers, including negative tests bulk-reported later in the week. So, those numbers I cited on Monday did not provide a clear or complete picture because they were not the final numbers for Oklahoma’s weekend testing. I have a cardinal rule that I violated there, that if a statistic sounds too wild to be true, it probably is. I’m going to remind myself of that in the future."

Oklahoma City TV reporter Dillon Richards had already knocked down the original article, tweeting: "Not only are these dates incorrect (this is referring to Sunday and Monday) ... Oklahoma generally doesn't report negative tests on Sundays and Mondays, so the rate always appears to be 100% when it really isn't."

We rate the original post False.

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No, Oklahoma didn’t have 100% COVID-positive test rate after Trump’s Tulsa rally

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