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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

RNC's Health Plan: Health Surveys And Thermal Scans - But No Talk Of Masks

Jennifer Lang

Top GOP leaders said  Thursday their health protocols for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte will rely on pre-travel health surveys, daily health care questions that can be answered by an app and thermal scans of all attendees.

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, and Marcia Lee Kelly, the CEO of the convention, sent a letter to North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper detailing their plans.

If the state seeks additional measures, they asked that the state tell them by June 3.

"Time is of the essence," they wrote.

The three-page letter did not mention social distancing inside the Spectrum Center or the possibility that attendees would wear masks. It also didn't say that the RNC would be OK with the arena being filled with fewer people than would be allowed under normal circumstances.

President Trump on Monday tweeted that Cooper needs to give Republicans an assurance that the Spectrum Center can be full. He and Vice President Mike Pence said they would move the convention unless Cooper gives them assurances the convention can move forward.

Pence said that Florida, Georgia and Texas were possibilities. The Republican governors of Florida and Georgia are enthusiastic about hosting the RNC, but it's unclear if there are many cities willing to host tens of thousands of delegates and visitors.

The Democratic mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, said she did not see the city hosting. The Republican mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, Lenny Curry, has said his city could host at VyStar Memorial Arena.

Under North Carolina's current Phase 2 reopening rules, the Spectrum Center can only be open for made-for-TV concerts and sporting events. Athletes, performers and support staff are exempt from the state's limit on gatherings of 10 people indoors.

But Mandy Cohen, the state's secretary of Health and Human Services, told WFAE last week that delegates would be considered as spectators and not essential staff. That means they would be subject to the 10-person limit indoors, making it extremely difficult to host a convention.

The state's Phase 2 rules are set to last until June 26. 

The letter said the convention will have anti-bacterial gel widely available and there would be "aggressive sanitizing" of surfaces.

Last week, Alex Azar, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, said that widespread testing of attendees might pave the way for a normal convention. Cohen has also said that extensive testing might be a way for the event to move forward. But the letter did not address testing.

In previous interviews, McDaniel has said that - if needed - all people inside the Spectrum Center might be required to masks.

But there was no mention of masks in the letter.

"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 state's plans.

2020 RNC Letter to North Carolina Gov. Cooper by WFAE on Scribd

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.