GOP Convention Safety Plan

AP News
May 28, 2020 - 9:31 pm
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper listens to a question during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, May 28, 2020.

(Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

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By JONATHAN DREW Associated Press

 

North Carolina's governor said Thursday that his administration hasn't received the written safety plan for the upcoming Republican National Convention requested by his health secretary in response to President Donald Trump's demands for a full-scale event.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said during a media briefing that RNC organizers have yet to turn over written plans for how they envision safely holding the convention in Charlotte in August amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Top GOP officials countered in a letter that they need more guidance and assurances from Cooper.

North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen sent a letter Monday to the top RNC organizer asking for the written plans after Trump demanded in a tweet that North Carolina guarantee a full-scale, in-person convention will be held. Cooper and Cohen say that they had discussed various scenarios with convention organizers but want their plan in writing.

“We’re ready to hold the RNC convention in North Carolina in a safe way. And for weeks and months, the health experts in our office have had conversations with the people organizing the RNC about how to have it in a safe way,” he said.

But despite the request Monday, Cooper said: “We've yet to see” a written safety plan from RNC organizers.

Cooper said his administration required a similar written plan from NASCAR ahead of its recent race in the Charlotte area that was held without fans. He said he’s in similar discussions with sports teams including Charlotte’s NFL and NBA teams.

Top GOP officials later released a letter they sent to Cooper on Thursday saying they need further direction and assurances from him to move forward. The letter also offers several proposed steps to screen and protect convention attendees' health.

“We still do not have solid guidelines from the state and cannot in good faith ask thousands of visitors to begin paying deposits and making travel plans without knowing the full commitment of the governor, elected officials and other stakeholders in supporting the convention,” said the letter.

It was signed by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Republican National Convention President Marcia Lee Kelly.

The letter, which doesn't represent a finalized safety plan, proposes steps including apps asking attendees daily health questions, taking attendees' temperature before they board transportation, health checks again at the NBA arena serving as the center of the convention and aggressive cleaning and sanitizing of public areas.

Trump threatened in a tweet Monday to move the convention unless Cooper guarantees a full-capacity gathering. Then on Tuesday, Trump reiterated the idea by saying he wanted an answer from Cooper within a week, or he'd be forced to consider moving the convention somewhere else. Florida and Georgia's governors have said they're interested in hosting

Asked about Trump's demand for an answer within a week, Cooper told reporters: “We’re not on any timeline here.”

Cooper has gradually eased business restrictions, with restaurants now allowed to offer limited indoor dining. But entertainment venues, bars and gyms remain closed under his current order that also caps indoor mass gatherings at 10 people.

Local Republican officials have noted that Trump isn't a party to the convention contract and doesn’t appear to have the power to unilaterally move the event, which is scheduled to start in 90 days after two years of planning.

The county surrounding Charlotte has had the most virus cases of any in North Carolina, and the state is experiencing an upward trend in cases.