CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina health leaders responded Friday to a letter sent to Governor Roy Cooper by the Republican National Committee detailing safety conditions for an August convention in Charlotte.
The RNC sent the letter, which details safety protocols awaiting approval from the governor, on Thursday. They requested a response to their letter by June 3.
“As we have previously discussed, it is our shared goal to host the Republican Nation Convention in Charlotte and to showcase the Queen City, and all of the Carolinas, to the entire world in August,” RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel wrote.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretery Mandy Cohen responded with a letter back to the RNC which detailed certain questions health officials still want answered ahead of the Charlotte convention.
“We have appreciated our conversations with you and the Convention Committee staff, and your acknowledgement that a successful convention this August will need to be scaled-back and require significant measures to protect the health and safety of delegates and participants, as well as the health of the people of North Carolina,” Cohen wrote.
Citing CDC guidelines, Cohen asked that the RNC “further elaborate on its plans to protect convention participants and the people of Charlotte in accordance with the CDC guidance.”
Specific questions in Cohen’s letter included:
- How many delegates, alternates, elected officials, guests and media do you expect to be in attendance inside the Spectrum Center for each night of the Convention? How does the RNC plan to have participants social distance while in the Spectrum Center?
- How will the RNC implement health screenings, social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene and other cleaning protocols at all RNC sanctioned events in the Charlotte area, including welcome parties, state party events, media events, finance events, caucus meetings, committee meetings, receptions and other party business meetings and gatherings?
- During our phone conversation on Tuesday, May 26, you indicated a desire from President Trump to hold Thursday’s nomination event with “people together in a crowdlike setting” and without social distancing or face coverings for attendees. While the letter did not address this specifically, is this still the intent? You also mentioned testing for all participants before they enter the Spectrum Center for the Thursday event. Is this still a consideration? Would this be limited to Thursday night or would it apply to the other nights of the Convention?
- How will the RNC isolate individuals who do not pass the thermal and health screenings outlined in the letter? How will contact tracing be conducted for others with whom they may have come in contact?
- Given the evidence of asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, what additional precautions will the RNC take to prevent spread of the virus?
Cohen went on to mention how North Carolina handled safety at NASCAR’s Memorial Day race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend.
“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," Cohen continued. "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 concluded, “The State continues to support the hosting of the Republican National Convention in Charlotte if it can be done safely. We remain committed to working with you on an event that adequately protects both attendees and the people of North Carolina.”
Read the entire letter below:
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump gave Gov. Cooper a week to make a decision about allowing full attendance at the Republican National Convention before considering other locations for the convention.
This came in response to a question about how long he would wait for Gov. Cooper to provide him the information he is looking for to host the RNC in Charlotte.
“We have a governor who doesn’t want to open up the state,” President Trump said. “We have a date at the end of August and we have to know before we spend millions and millions of dollars on an arena to make it magnificent for the convention.”
President Trump pointed out that the RNC has “tremendous” economic development consequences on the state.
“We have to know that when the people come down, they’re going to have the doors open - now if the governor can’t tell us very soon, unfortunately we’ll have no choice,” President Trump said.
President Trump talked about how he loves North Carolina and how it is a very important place to him.
“I’d love to have it in North Carolina. that was why I chose it, Charlotte - but we’re going to see,” President Trump said.
President Trump said he would say he needs to know if the governor can guarantee full attendance within a week before looking elsewhere for a location.
“If he feels that he’s not going to do it, all he has to do is tell us and then we’ll have to pick another locations and I will tell you a lot of locations want it,” President Trump said. “But I picked North Carolina because I do love that state and it would have been a perfect place for it and it still would be - but he’s got to say that when thousands of people come to the arena that they’ll be able to get in. Does that make sense?”
The full response to the question can be found here around the 21:44 minute mark of the video.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper responded to Monday tweets from President Donald Trump threatening to pull the Republican National Convention (RNC) from Charlotte if the state cannot guarantee full attendance at the convention.
Gov. Cooper said state officials have already been in talks with the RNC about the kind of convention they would need to hold and the kinds of options needed. The Republican National Convention is set for August 24 through August 27 at the Spectrum Center. It was expected to bring nearly 50,000 people to the city.
“We’re talking about something that’s going to happen three months from now, and we don’t know what our situation is going to be regarding COVID-19 in North Carolina,” Gov. Cooper said.
Gov. Cooper mentioned conversations state health officials have been having with the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets and other large arena owners about precautions to take when considering holding large events in North Carolina in the coming months.
“Everyone wants to get back into action soon,” Gov. Cooper said. "But I think everybody knows that we have to take some steps to make sure that people are protected, because this virus is still going to be with us in August and we’re going to have to take steps to protect people.
Gov. Cooper says officials have asked the RNC to present their written proposals for plans for the convention. Cooper said officials have had discussions about the possibility of a limited convention among other options.
Cooper said NASCAR did a great job of presenting their plans and adhering to many safety guidelines, and he looks forward to having positive conversations with the RNC as well.
“We’d like to reach a resolution that everyone can be reasonable about that puts public healthy, safety, the science and the facts as the number one thing we’re trying to do here,” Gov. Cooper said.
At a press conference Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president wants to see the RNC go forward in North Carolina and sees “no reason not to” have the convention at this time.
Already, two other governors are offering up their states to host the Republican National Convention. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sent an open plea to Trump on Tuesday to consider his state as an alternate site for the quadrennial convention, which is set to gather more than 2,500 delegates and thousands more guests, press and security officials.
Kemp’s offer was followed by one from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who told reporters at a Miami news conference that he “would love” to have the GOP or even the Democratic convention, as either would bring millions of dollars to the state.