RNC Support Staff And Attendees In Charlotte, NC Test Positive For COVID-19

Four cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina have surfaced with direct connections to the Republican National Convention. The convention has been operating largely on a virtual platform, but hundreds have still convened in Charlotte — instead of the tens of thousands originally expected — for the event. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump criticized N.C. Governor Roy Cooper for saying that he couldn’t promise a full-scale convention could be allowed.

COVID-19 cases connected to RNC in Charlotte
[Photo by Travis Dove-Pool/Getty Images]

In May, Governor Cooper updated the restrictions, relaxing some and allowing more businesses to return to operation. However, he wasn’t willing at that time to confirm that the GOP could hold a full-scale, in-person convention that might bring 50,000 people to the state. This was criticized by some who worried businesses would suffer for the loss of that revenue, and Trump tweeted about it, saying he’d find another location.

Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena. In other words, we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space.

The RNC was instead planned for Florida, but then had to be canceled as COVID-19 cases surged there.

Trump and Pence speak at Charlotte convention on the first day, before the spread hits
[Photo by Chris Carlson / POOL / AFP via Getty Images]

The result was multiple mini-conventions: delegates would meet in Charlotte and speakers would record their speeches from various locations to be aired virtually. At the White House, crowds gathered to watch Trump family members and guests speak (despite the Hatch Act, which forbids government employees for campaigning or working for a partisan campaign on the taxpayer dime). Trump also appeared at the Charlotte event for the first day, along with Mike Pence.

Now, in the North Carolina portion of the event, the Charlotte Observer reports that some of the hundreds of delegates, support staff, and guests have had positive tests. They’re being asked to isolate, and their closest contacts are asked to remain in quarantine for a period of time.

The attendees were given special badges to wear that record contacts, so that health officials can quickly determine which other attendees are at highest risk — but delegates and staff have also been moving freely around the city, in restaurants and stores and other venues, so it’s not clear yet how many new cases could arise as a consequence of this convention.

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