Republicans scale back Florida convention due to rising COVID-19 cases

Republicans scale back Florida convention due to rising COVID-19 cases
Source: The Associated Press

On Thursday, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sent a letter to delegates stating that the Republican Convention in Jacksonville, Florida will be scaled down significantly due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

“We had hoped to be able to plan a traditional convention celebration to which we are all accustomed. However, adjustments must be made to comply with state and local health guidelines,” the letter stated.

The RNC convention will be held from August 24 to August 27, with President Donald Trump formally attending the event and accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for a second presidential term on the last day.

According to the letter, only party delegates – around 2,500 people – will be present during the convention’s first three days.

On the day of Trump’s formal nomination, alternate delegates will be allowed to attend and regular delegates will be allowed to bring a guest, increasing the total number of attendees to 6,000-7,000 people.

In compliance with local health guidelines, the event will implement health protocols by providing hand sanitizer and on-site temperature checks. Although COVID-19 testing will also be available, the specifics of how it will be carried out during the event have not yet been confirmed.

“We plan to implement a variety of health protocols in order to ensure a safe event. This plan includes but is not limited to on-site temperature checks, available PPE, aggressive sanitizing protocols, and available COVID-19 testing,” McDaniel wrote, adding that both indoor and outdoor venues will be used during the event.

“We plan to utilize a number of indoor and outdoor venues in this multi-block radius of Jacksonville, including the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, TIAA Bank Field, Daily’s Place Amphitheater, 121 Financial Ballpark, and several others.”

“I want to make clear that we still intend to host a fantastic convention celebration in Jacksonville,” McDaniel added. “We can gather and put on a top-notch event that celebrates the incredible accomplishments of President Trump’s administration and his re-nomination for a second term – while also doing so in a safe and responsible manner.”

The convention was initially set to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. However, in June, Republican officials decided to move the celebration, except pro forma voting, to Jacksonville, Florida as North Carolina’s Democratic Governor, Roy Cooper, refused to allow an event take place in Charlotte’s Spectrum Center arena that had the potential to feature upward of 19,000 delegates and other attendees due to COVID-19 concerns.

Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and Jacksonville’s Republican Mayor Lenny Curry were more receptive of the Trump administration’s demand to have a sizable in-person convention.

Curry told reporters last month, “Clearly, the RNC wants a large event with a lot of people. I want that too.”

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said to reporters that the administration will continue to “consult local health officials” adding that the convention is still “a work in progress.”

“The president has indicated we will be flexible. We will continue to consult with Mayor Curry and other local health officials and Governor DeSantis as we move forward."

Florida has reported 13,837 COVID-19 cases among its residents since Wednesday, with a total case count surpassing 300,000.

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