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Politics
Coronavirus news and updates about the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

GOP Creates Semi-Bubble For Delegates, With Testing And Trackers

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Steve Harrison
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WFAE
Delegates arriving at the Westin first meet with health-care professoinals from Novant before checking in.

The entry to the Westin hotel has a small patch of red carpet for delegates to take a photo in front of a Republican National Convention banner.

But most of the action is elsewhere. Namely, a purple medical tent.

There, delegates are given a coronavirus test – even though they were required to take a self-swab COVID-19 test at home before coming to Charlotte.

"When they arrive, the delegates are tested again with a rapid test," said Dr. David Callaway, who works in disaster medicine at Atrium. "We've already tested all the staff and employees. So this is about a COVID-clear environment as you can get in America."

Atrium has tested 400 employees working the convention, including the Secret Service. Novant is testing 336 delegates.

In addition to having to take two coronavirus tests, attendees must wear masks. They aren’t allowed to move their chairs, to ensure they stay six feet apart.

And each delegate’s badge has a fob that uses Bluetooth technology to track who they come in contact with. If someone gets sick, the RNC’s health director, Dr. Jeffrey Runge, says he can track who that person was near. That makes contact tracing easier.

"It’s completely private," Runge said. "The badges have a number, and we will know what numbers are in contact with other numbers. But they won’t be identified with a person unless there is someone who is positive for COVID."

Chris Ager is a delegate from New Hampshire.

His state doesn’t have many coronavirus cases – about 7,000 to date – and he doesn’t usually wear a mask.

"There’s very, very low risk up there," he said, "but to me, if you join an organization and you attend their event then you follow their rules. And so the rules of wearing a mask … it’s fine."

Delegates will meet Monday at the Convention Center to nominate President Trump for a second term.

Trump is scheduled to be in western North Carolina on Monday. Politico reports that he may also come to Charlotte.

Go behind the headlines with WFAE political reporter Steve Harrison in his weekly newsletter, Inside Politics. Steve will provide insight about and analysis of local and statewide politics. Readers will gain an understanding of political news on the horizon and why it matters. 

While you're at it, go ahead and take a listen to our companion podcast: “Inside Politics: The RNC in Charlotte,” hosted by Steve Harrison and Lisa Worf.