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

Cohen Replies To RNC: Do You Still Want No Social Distancing, No Masks?

Mandy Cohen
NC Department of Public Safety
DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, shown here in a Tuesday press conference , asked the RNC for more information.

North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen responded to the GOP on Friday morning about its plans for the Republican National Convention, asking party leaders for more information about how they plan to hold the event safely in Charlotte.

In the letter, Cohen referenced a Tuesday phone call with Ronna McDaniel, chair of the RNC, and Marcia Lee Kelly, the CEO of the convention.

Cohen said McDaniel and Kelly told her that President Trump wants the final night of the convention to have “people together in a crowd-like setting” and without social distancing or face coverings for attendees. 

In the letter, Cohen asks if that is still the intent -- and whether the "crowd-like setting" would apply to other nights of the convention.

Cohen's other questions include:

How many people the RNC expects to have inside the arena and how can they practice social distancing?

How will the RNC implement health screenings, social distancing and face coverings inside the arena and at all RNC-sanctioned events?

"We know that it is possible to have a large-scale event during these trying times," Cohen wrote. "We shared with President Kelly a plan submitted by NASCAR that our public health team was able to review and provide feedback on, which resulted in a successful Memorial Day race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend."

Bu Cohen warned the GOP about the state's troubling trends in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

"Additionally, while North Carolina is now in Phase 2 of easing restrictions, this past week we had our highest day of new lab confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, and we have increasing numbers of people hospitalized with COVID-19," she wrote. "The status of COVID-19 infections in our state and in the Charlotte area continues to rapidly evolve, thus, it will be important to have several scenarios planned that can be deployed depending on the public health situation."

In data released by the DHHS on Friday, North Carolina recorded its second-highest number of new coronavirus cases -- 1,076, with a test-positivity rate of 9%.

Cohen's letter was in response to a three-page letter that McDaniel and Kelly sent Thursday night. That letter outlined steps the RNC is willing to take for the convention, which include health screenings of convention-goers. It did not mention masks or social distancing -- two things the GOP had previously said would be possible.

McDaniel and Kelly said Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has until June 3 to tell the GOP what kind of convention it can have.

After that, the GOP has said it may move the convention to another city.

Vice President Mike Pence has said Florida, Georgia and Texas could be sites for the RNC.

Mandy Cohen response to RNC, May 29, 2020 by WFAE on Scribd

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