RNC sends Gov. Cooper letter emphasizing deadline for guidance on 2020 Convention

Dr. Cohen asks RNC to elaborate on plans to safely host Charlotte convention

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Republican National Committee sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Saturday emphasizing a Wednesday deadline for an answer regarding the convention in August.

GOP officials are asking for the ability to hold 19,000 people in the Spectrum Center. They also want hotels, restaurants and bars to be able to operate at full capacity.

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North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen on Friday responded to the Republican National Committee’s COVID-19 safety plan, saying the agency needs more information, including how many people will be in attendance.

Cohen shared this letter Friday after the Republican National Committee submitted their ideas for hosting their convention in Charlotte this summer, telling Gov. Roy Cooper that he had less than a week to get back to them.

“The CDC currently has interim guidance regarding mass gatherings which details a number of safety protocols that organizers of major events should utilize amid this pandemic,” she wrote. “We would ask that the RNC further elaborate on its plans to protect convention participants and the people of Charlotte in accordance with the CDC guidance.”

The letter concluded by saying that the state still wants to host the convention but with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations spiking this week, the RNC will have to come up with several scenarios to hold it safely.

Governor’s Office spokesperson Sadie Weiner shared the following statement on Friday: “North Carolina will continue working with the RNC to ensure the convention can be held safely.”

“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 RNC said on Wednesday.

The letter was signed by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and GOP Convention CEO Marcia Lee Kelly.

In the letter, the following protocols were laid out:

  • Pre-travel health surveys
  • Daily health questionnaires delivered through an app
  • Thermal scans of all mandatory attendees
  • Anti-bacterial gel available and a sanitizing protocol for public areas
  • Charlotte Convention Center used as mandatory hub for a final healthcare screening
  • Clean health check required for all attendees prior to entering the arena

“A successful convention per RNC rules requires delegates, alternates, elected officials, guests and media to be in attendance as President Trump is nominated for a second term," the letter said.

Actions not mentioned in the letter included the use of masks, social distancing or mandatory testing.

In response to the letter, a spokesperson for the governor said, “We are still waiting for a plan from the RNC, but our office will work with state health officials to review the letter and share a response tomorrow.”

Questions about whether the convention would happen in Charlotte started Monday when President Donald Trump posted a series of Tweets threatening to move it elsewhere.

On Tuesday, Cooper responded by saying he can’t guarantee anything three months away, but that his decision will be made with public health as the priority. Shortly after those remarks, Trump said he wanted to know within a week whether the governor would commit to holding a full convention.

Cooper said on Thursday that his administration hadn’t yet received the written safety plan for the upcoming convention.

North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen sent a letter Monday to the top RNC organizer, asking for a written safety plan after President Donald Trump demanded in a Tweet that North Carolina guarantee a full-scale, in-person convention.

Cohen wanted to see plans for how the RNC envisions safely holding the convention in August amid the COVID-19 pandemic.