CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - New emails obtained by WBTV through a public records request show attendees at the Republican National Convention failed to follow all of the protocols they promised to observe while meeting in Charlotte.
In an email sent to Mecklenburg County Commissioners after the RNC, Public Health Director Gibbie Harris highlighted the biggest disappointments from the convention.
She wrote that “From Thursday through Sunday, there was significant compliance with the requirements” but “that was not the case during the Business meeting Monday.”
She noted there were people not wearing masks, a significant lack of social distancing and even people hugging and shaking hands.
“It surprised me to the extent that they (RNC) agreed that they would comply with what our requests were,” Commissioner Mark Jerrell said.
Jerrell says that even though county officials have made assurances there was no public risk, even with the four confirmed positive cases from the RNC, his concern was for the community.
“It’s really disappointing that they would have such a disregard for our community that they would not comply with our asks,” Jerrell said.
Other emails from Harris show how difficult the county’s job was.
Harris asked convention VP Max Everett what they could do for better compliance.
In response Harris they “had staff bring handfuls of wrapped logo masks in with them as well” and that he was “Going to push for at least an announcement on masks.”
But in a later email Harris wrote that she “later learned that no one from RNC leadership addressed these issues with the delegates at any time during the meeting.”
“We took the reasonable amount of steps but I think in the future we have to realize that not everyone is going to comply,” Jerrell said.
Similarly, in her email Harris wrote that the RNC’s failures to enforce health protocols “will make it more difficult to approve similar requests as long as we have community wide COVID-19 spread in our community.”
Emails obtained by WBTV also shed light on why the county did not originally confirm that two delegates and two support staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Emails reporters sent trying to confirm WBTV’s original report were discussed by Harris and county communications staff. Harris originally said the information should not be released citing “HIPAA and no Public Health issue to share.”
But in another email only several hours later Harris admitted to staff why HIPAA did not apply.
“Technically there is not a HIPAA related issue that restricts us from providing cumulative numbers. If there was we couldn’t do the data reports,” Harris wrote.
WBTV asked why it took the county another three days to confirm that delegates tested positive and were in isolation.
“Initial questions were asked in a way that could have identified individuals. We were working with the RNC Committee to assure that we had all the data in order to provide accurate numbers,” Harris responded in an email.
However, emails WBTV reviewed that were sent by other reporters did not request information about which individuals had tested positive for COVID-19.