Trump's dream of a packed GOP convention is falling apart

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The restrictions Donald Trump tried to avoid by moving the convention to Jacksonville, Florida, are now in place there.

Donald Trump's dreams of packing an arena full of adoring supporters at the Republican National Convention are falling apart at the seams as the United States' out-of-control coronavirus outbreak is forcing governors across the country to once again announce limits on public gatherings.

In early June, Trump announced he was upending plans for the RNC by moving the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida.

Trump said he was "forced" to make the change because North Carolina's Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper couldn't guarantee that he could fill an arena and allow attendees not to wear face masks.

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But Florida is now experiencing a massive coronavirus outbreak, with the state setting a grim record for the most new cases recorded in a single day — more than New York saw at the height of its outbreak in April.

And now Florida is implementing some of the same restrictions Trump sought to avoid when he changed RNC venues.

NBC News reported that Florida is currently under an executive order signed by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis that bans venues from operating at more than 50% capacity. That means the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, where Trump plans to give his Republican nomination acceptance speech, would have to be half-empty.

Late last month, Jacksonville instituted a policy requiring the wearing of face masks in all indoor locations in the city, the very thing Trump wanted to avoid.

What's more, a number of GOP lawmakers, including some top party leaders who typically go to the RNC every four years, either haven't committed or no longer plan to attend.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA) is not going, marking the first time in 40 years he's missing his party's nominating convention.

Sens. Lamar Alexander (TN), Roy Blunt (MO), and Pat Roberts (KS) also won't be attendance, according to the New York Times. Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) hasn't committed to going, even though the convention is taking place in his home state.

Florida is experiencing one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country. The state documented a record 15,300 cases on July 12, more than the 12,274 cases New York recorded at the peak of its outbreak back in April.

The outbreak in Florida is far worse than it was when DeSantis agreed to host the convention in early June.

DeSantis has not indicated whether he will make exceptions from safety regulations so the RNC can go on as planned. The convention is currently scheduled to take place Aug. 24-27.

DeSantis is adamant that he won't shut the state down again despite the massive rise in numbers of coronavirus cases and is downplaying the outbreak, even as health care workers are sounding the alarm that the system may collapse from the strain.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.