RNC Asks Cooper For Assurance 'Full Convention' Can Happen In Charlotte

May 30, 2020

The Republican National Committee wants Gov. Roy Cooper's assurance by Wednesday that a "full convention" can take place in Charlotte this summer. It's the latest in an ongoing back-and-forth between the Democratic governor and officials organizing the Republican National Convention that's set to start Aug. 24 at the Spectrum Center.

In a letter dated Saturday, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and convention CEO Marcia Kelly also say hotels, restaurants and bars would need to be able to operate at capacity in order to help serve roughly 19,000 delegates, staff, volunteers and other people associated with the convention.

North Carolina's current restrictions meant to keep COVID-19 in check would prevent the RNC from happening as originally planned, and state health officials have been working with organizers to hammer out a safety plan. President Trump on Monday said the convention could move, and leaders in other states have gone as far as offering sites for the event.

"The RNC has worked tirelessly and in good faith throughout the planning process to make this a successful event for everyone," committee members wrote in the letter. "That has not changed. While we have demonstrated our commitment and acted to ensure a safe convention, to date, we have received no guidance that provides us any assurances that the convention can proceed according to the terms of various participants' original agreements."

Organizers submitted plans for temperature checks, coronavirus testing at the convention, increased cleaning -- but no mention of requiring face masks.

The RNC warns Cooper that if the state doesn't OK "a full convention" by Wednesday, "we will immediately need to begin making modifications as to how the convention will proceed."

In submitting their plan Thursday, RNC officials had written that "time is of the essence."

But state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen wanted more details about health screenings, social distancing plans and clarity on expected crowd sizes. North Carolina has experienced highs in both coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the past week.

"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," Cohen wrote to RNC organizers Friday. 

North Carolina's currently in Phase 2 of its three-part reopening plan, which is set to last until at least June 26. Under Phase 2, there's a limit of 10 people at indoor gatherings.

"We'd like to reach a resolution that everybody can be reasonable about that puts public health, safety, the science and the facts as the No. 1 thing we're trying to do here," Cooper said Tuesday. "We look forward to those continued conversations."

As of Saturday morning, North Carolina Health and Human Services was reporting 27,673 laboratory-confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 877 deaths from COVID-19 complications. Mecklenburg County was reporting 3,858 confirmed cases and 89 related deaths. As of May 25, the latest date for which such numbers are available, the state estimated that 14,954 North Carolinians had recovered from COVID-19. 

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