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Trump demands Republican convention ‘with no masks or social distancing’ despite COVID-19 pandemic

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Trump threatens to move the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina if Governor Cooper doesn’t agree to demands of ‘a full convention arena with no face coverings and no social distancing’

  • Trump does not want to see signs of the pandemic in his renomination audience when the even kicks off August 24, according to Governor Roy Cooper’s office 
  • Trump ‘insisted on a full convention arena with no face coverings and no social distancing’ at the Charlotte, North Carolina event when talking to Cooper
  • ‘The governor expressed concerns and suggested a scaled back event with fewer attendees’ inside the Spectrum Center Cooper’s spokesperson said
  • Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, has by far the most COVID-19 cases in the state, with more than 3,800 cases on Friday and roughly 90 deaths
  • Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said it appeared Cooper was dragging his feet on a decision due to a ‘little bit of gamesmanship’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

President Donald Trump has demanded a Republican National Convention in North Carolina with no social distancing measures despite the coronavirus outbreak. 

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Trump does not want to see signs of the pandemic in his renomination audience when the even kicks off August 24, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said.

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Cooper spoke to the president by phone about plans for the convention in Charlotte’s downtown sports arena, and Trump this week threatened to move his formal renomination elsewhere if he does not get guarantees by next week of being able to hold a large-scale event.  

During the Friday call, when Trump ‘insisted on a full convention arena with no face coverings and no social distancing the governor expressed concerns and suggested a scaled back event with fewer attendees,’ Cooper spokeswoman Sadie Weiner wrote in an email to the Associated Press. 

Governor Roy Cooper

President Trump does not want to see signs of the pandemic in his renomination audience when the Republican National Convention kicks off August 24, according to Governor Roy Cooper’s (right) office

‘They agreed to continue talking about ways to have a safe convention in Charlotte.’

The conversation came hours after Cooper’s health secretary, Mandy Cohen, called for more specifics beyond the safety protocols that the GOP convention’s leaders sent her in a letter on Thursday. 

Cooper’s administration has wanted more planning about public health and safety given the uncertainty COVID-19 has caused regarding commerce and movement restrictions.

The convention will be capped by Trump’s nomination speech on the 27th. 

Cohen wrote Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and convention CEO Marcia Lee Kelly asking them to confirm whether Trump wanted the convention’s final night to have ‘people together in a crowd-like setting’ and without social distancing or face masks for participants.

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Cohen also wanted numbers on how many people would be inside the Spectrum Center nightly, and how social distancing would occur there.

Kelly and McDaniel wrote that they needed further direction and assurances from him by next Wednesday to move forward on a convention they said would bring a massive economic boost to the city.

'The governor expressed concerns and suggested a scaled back event with fewer attendees' inside the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina (pictured) Cooper's spokesperson said

‘The governor expressed concerns and suggested a scaled back event with fewer attendees’ inside the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina (pictured) Cooper’s spokesperson said

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said it appeared Democratic Gov. Cooper was dragging his feet on a decision due to a 'little bit of gamesmanship' and politics

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said it appeared Democratic Gov. Cooper was dragging his feet on a decision due to a ‘little bit of gamesmanship’ and politics

The Republican National Committee declined to comment Friday night.

Earlier Friday, McDaniel told a Charlotte radio station it appeared Cooper was dragging his feet on a decision and attributed it to a ‘little bit of gamesmanship’ and politics. Cooper is seeking reelection this fall in a state Trump won in 2016.

‘We are very happy for them to give us guidelines, but ultimately it’s going to come down to the elected officials to tell us how we can conduct our convention, and then we can plan,’ McDaniel told WBT. ‘We’re still hoping to make it work, but we´re not going to wait indefinitely.’

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Cooper suggested to reporters on Thursday that the state had no timeline. Florida and Georgia´s governors have said they´re interested in hosting the convention.

Right now, Cooper’s COVID-19 executive order prevents mass indoor assemblies of more than 10 people, but that could change in the weeks leading up to the convention if case and hospitalization numbers keep improving.

While Republicans offered on Thursday several proposed steps to screen and protect convention attendees’ health, it lacked a final safety plan – something Cohen and Cooper said they want, such as one that NASCAR offered before racing last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, albeit with no fans.

Cooper has gradually eased business restrictions in the state, with restaurants now allowed to offer limited indoor dining. But entertainment venues, bars and gyms remain closed.

Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, has by far the most COVID-19 cases in the state, with more than 3,800 cases as of Friday morning and roughly 90 deaths.

Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, has by far the most COVID-19 cases in the state, with more than 3,800 cases on Friday and roughly 90 deaths

Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, has by far the most COVID-19 cases in the state, with more than 3,800 cases on Friday and roughly 90 deaths

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