Governor Roy Cooper said the Republican Party has still not submitted a written safety plan he requested for the party’s national convention.
(AP) — North Carolina’s governor said Thursday that his administration has not received the written safety plan for the upcoming Republican National Convention requested by his health secretary in response to President Trump’s demands for a full-scale event.
Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said during a news briefing that RNC organizers have yet to turn over written plans for how they envision safely holding the convention in Charlotte in August amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Top Republican officials countered in a letter that they need more guidance and assurances from Cooper. North Carolina and Charlotte are reporting increased spread of the coronavirus.
North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen sent a letter Monday to the top RNC organizer asking for the written plans after Trump demanded in a tweet that North Carolina guarantee a full-scale, in-person convention will be held. Cooper and Cohen say they have discussed various scenarios with convention organizers but want their plan in writing.
“We’re ready to hold the RNC convention in North Carolina in a safe way. And for weeks and months, the health experts in our office have had conversations with the people organizing the RNC about how to have it in a safe way,” he said.
But despite the request Monday, Cooper said: “We’ve yet to see” a written safety plan from RNC organizers.
Cooper said his administration required a written plan from NASCAR before its recent race in the Charlotte area that was held without fans. He said he’s in similar discussions with sports teams, including Charlotte’s NFL and NBA teams.
Top Republican officials released a letter they sent to Cooper on Thursday saying they need more direction and assurances from him. The letter offers several proposed steps to screen and protect convention-goers’ health.
“We still do not have solid guidelines from the state and cannot in good faith ask thousands of visitors to begin paying deposits and making travel plans without knowing the full commitment of the governor, elected officials and other stakeholders in supporting the convention,” the letter said.
It was signed by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Republican National Convention President Marcia Lee Kelly.
The letter, which does not include a final safety plan, proposes steps including apps asking attendees daily health questions, taking attendees’ temperature before they board transportation, health checks again at the NBA arena at the center of the convention and aggressive cleaning and sanitizing of public areas.
Trump threatened in a tweet Monday to move the convention unless Cooper guarantees a full-capacity gathering. On Tuesday he reiterated the idea by saying he wanted an answer from Cooper within a week, or he’d consider moving the convention somewhere else. Florida and Georgia’s governors have said they’re interested.
Asked about Trump’s demand for an answer within a week, Cooper said: “We’re not on any timeline here.”
Cooper has gradually eased business restrictions, with restaurants now allowed to offer limited indoor dining. But entertainment venues, bars and gyms remain closed under his order that also caps indoor mass gatherings at 10 people.
Local Republican officials have noted that Trump is not a party to the convention contract and does not appear to have the power to unilaterally move the event, which is scheduled to start in 90 days after two years of planning.
The county surrounding Charlotte, Mecklenburg, has had the most virus cases of any in North Carolina, and the state is experiencing an upward trend in cases.
By JONATHAN DREW