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North Carolina presses GOP on safety standards for convention
Officials in North Carolina have again pressed Republicans on how they intend to carry out their national convention this summer while observing safety guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In the latest back-and-forth over the convention, which is currently slated to take place in Charlotte from Aug. 24-27, North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen sent a letter asking top GOP officials for more information on how they intend to conduct the confab.
The letter mainly focused on how the party will enforce social distancing protocols, how it intends to test the tens of thousands of expected attendees and any precautions that will be implemented for asymptomatic people.
Cohen also referenced a phone call with Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and convention president and CEO Marcia Lee Kelly during which Kelly conveyed President Trump's desire to hold the nomination portion of the event in "a crowd-like setting" that would not have any requirements for attendees to wear masks.
"The State continues to support the hosting of the Republican National Convention in Charlotte if it can be done safely," Cohen wrote to Kelly and Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. "We remain committed to working with you on an event that adequately protects both attendees and the people of North Carolina."
The status of the convention was thrust into some uncertainty this week after Trump threatened to move the event if Cooper did not guarantee that COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted and that the full Charlotte's Spectrum Center could be used. The president said Tuesday that Cooper has a week to decide, as other Republican governors offered to have their states host the convention.
"It's a massive expenditure, and we have to know. Yeah, I would say within a week, certainly, we'd have to know. Now if he can't do it, if he feels he's not going to do it, all he has to do is tell us, and then we'll have to pick another location," Trump said.
Cohen requested this week the GOP provide a contingency plan for the event that would take into account the coronavirus situation in North Carolina in August, but the party has maintained that the onus is on the state to ensure that the convention could be held safely and accused Democrats of not cooperating.
"I think there is a little bit of gamesmanship going on at this point. I didn't earlier but now I do," McDaniel in an interview on WBT with former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R). "It's really sad for Charlotte because we were going to bring a ton of revenue there and it's really sad for the RNC. We're still hoping to make it work but we're not going to wait indefinitely."
Cooper has maintained he will make a decision solely based on the available data on the coronavirus and the advice on state health officials. North Carolina is in the second phase of its reopening but has recently seen a rise in the number of new cases.