Georgia governor claims he can 'safely host' GOP convention as virus surges

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Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) also wants to have a huge gathering in the state.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp invited Donald Trump to move the 2020 Republican National Convention to his state, claiming on Tuesday that it could "safely host" the massive event in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention," Kemp tweeted. "We hope you will consider the Peach State, @realDonaldTrump!" Trump had threatened over the weekend that he might move the August event out of North Carolina if its governor does not drop pandemic safety restrictions.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who Kemp appointed in December to fill a vacant seat, quickly endorsed the idea. "Totally agree, Governor," she replied. "Georgia is open for business, and we have what it takes to safely and successfully host the Republican National Convention, Mr. President!"

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This comes as Georgia saw a surge in coronavirus cases over the holiday weekend. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, more than 2,000 new cases were reported in the state over the long Memorial Day weekend, bringing the state's total to 43,586. The state's curve has been ticking up lately, with its 14-day average rising from 505 new cases per day on May 11 to 675 new daily cases on May 19.

Kemp has been pushing hard for weeks to reopen the state, ignoring public health expert's advice. He announced in late April that he would drop many of the state's emergency social distancing requirements.

"In the same way that we carefully closed businesses and urged operations to end to mitigate the virus' spread, today we're announcing plans to incrementally and safely reopen sectors of our economy," he said at the time. Even Donald Trump publicly chastised Kemp for reopening too quickly.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top epidemiologist, warned Congress on May 12 that, "if states or cities or regions, in their attempt, understandable, to get back to some form of normality, disregard to a greater or lesser degree the checkpoints that we put in our guidelines ... there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that "[l]arge events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities."

The Republican National Convention is expected to attract thousands of delegates and others from every state in the country. Still, Republicans have pushed to go forward with an in-person convention and demanded that the country quickly reopen, even as the virus continues to spread widely.

"States should open up ASAP," Trump demanded on Tuesday in a tweet. "The Transition to Greatness has started, ahead of schedule. There will be ups and downs, but next year will be one of the best ever!"

Voters in Georgia have not been pleased with Kemp's handling of the COVID-19 crisis. A 50-state poll released last week found that while 49 of the 50 governors get majority approval for their responses to the pandemic, he alone did not. Just 43% of Georgians surveyed approved of his performance.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.