by Nyamekye Daniel
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen asked Republican National Convention organizers Friday for more details about their safety plan to carry out the event in Charlotte.
The Republican National Committee sent a list of proposed safety protocols for the GOP convention Thursday. Cohen responded Friday with a list of follow-up questions that fall under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
“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,” Cohen wrote in a letter to Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, and Marcia Lee Kelly, president and CEO of the convention. “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.”
Controversy erupted over the convention plans Monday after President Donald Trump threatened via Twitter to pull the event out of North Carolina. Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday public health officials were waiting on the safety plan to move the process along.
A spokeswoman for the governor, Sadie Weiner, said Friday, “North Carolina will continue working with the RNC to ensure the convention can be held safely.”
RNC’s plan included setting up a health care screening hub at the Charlotte Convention Center for health surveys, temperature checks and “aggressive” sanitizing protocols for public areas.
Cohen, in her letter Friday, asked McDaniel and Kelly to provide the number of attendees and specifics on social distancing measures, including a safety plan for RNC events taking place outside of the main venue and isolation procedures and contact tracing for attendees who fail health screenings.
Cohen also indicated RNC made a special request during a phone conversation Tuesday to allow participants in a nomination celebration for Trump to attend without face coverings or social distancing measures.
“You also mentioned testing for all participants before they enter the Spectrum Center for the Thursday event,” Cohen wrote. “Is this still a consideration? Would this be limited to Thursday night, or would it apply to the other nights of the convention?”
The GOP event, scheduled for August, is expected to draw 50,000 people to North Carolina, according to the host committee. The 2016 Republican National Convention generated an estimated $188 million for Cleveland, according to the Cleveland host committee.
Kelly and McDaniel touted the economic benefits of the convention to North Carolina officials in their letter Thursday.
“Knowing that President Trump and the RNC can provide a much needed and timely stimulus to Charlotte and the entire region has only steeled our resolve to hold an in-person, energetic, five-star event here while also perpetually maintaining safety foremost in mind,” they wrote.
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Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel’s work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times. Daniel is a reporter for The Center Square.