GOP wants to move its convention so it can ignore safety rules

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Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper says he will not 'risk the health and safety of North Carolinians' despite pressure from Donald Trump to hold a large event.

Republicans announced on Tuesday that the party will no longer hold its nominating convention in Charlotte after North Carolina's Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said he won't ignore guidance from health experts regarding large gatherings.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the Republican National Committee, Cooper said that "it is very unlikely" that the coronavirus crisis would be contained enough to hold a full-scale convention.

"Neither public health officials nor I will risk the health and safety of North Carolinians by providing the guarantees you seek," he said.

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At the moment, indoor gatherings in North Carolina are limited to 10 people. Republicans want to hold a convention with as many as 19,000 people, who would not be required to wear masks or practice social distancing, the Charlotte Observer reported.

"Due to the directive from the governor that our convention cannot go on as planned and as required by our rules, the celebration of the president's acceptance of the Republican nomination will be held in another city," a committee spokesperson said in a statement to Axios on Tuesday.

In a series of tweets Tuesday night, Donald Trump complained that Cooper refused to put his nominating convention above the health of residents.

"Governor Cooper is still in Shelter-In-Place Mode, and not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised," Trump wrote.

After saying Cooper's decision will mean a loss of income and jobs for the state, Trump said, "we are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention."

As of Wednesday, North Carolina had met only two of the five health criteria suggested to states by the federal government to safely reopen, according to data updated daily by ProPublica.

The analysis looked at five metrics based on guidance issued by the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The number of positive coronavirus tests per 100,000 people, the percentage of positive test results, the number of tests per 100,000 per day, the availability of ICU beds, and the number of hospital visits for "flu-like illness."

In North Carolina, the number of positive tests and the percentage of positive tests are both increasing rather than decreasing, and hospital visits for flu-like symptoms are holding steady rather than decreasing.

As of Wednesday morning, North Carolina had more than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the New York Times, and at least 950 people had died from the illness.

Trump "is more concerned about holding a massive party for himself than leading our nation through crisis," Xochitl Hinojosa, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Unlike Republicans, Democrats will continue to listen to health experts, follow science, and prioritize the health and safety of the American people," she added.

Republicans are looking at cities in four states — Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Tennessee — as possible replacements, Politico reported on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday, Florida had met two of the five coronavirus metrics for reopening, Georgia had met one, Nevada had met two, and Tennessee had met two, according to ProPublica.

Trump has been encouraging states to lift stay-at-home orders for weeks, despite guidance from the federal government and the advice of health experts.

"Stock Market up BIG, DOW crosses 25,000. S&P 500 over 3000. States should open up ASAP," Trump tweeted on May 26. "There will be ups and downs, but next year will be one of the best ever!"

Trump also praised armed protesters who marched on the Michigan Capitol in order to demand that Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allow more businesses to reopen.

Whitmer "should give a little, and put out the fire," Trump tweeted on May 1, adding, "These are very good people, but they are angry."

States lifting stay-at-home orders too soon may lead to "suffering and death that could be avoided," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warned during a May 12 Senate hearing.

Nationwide, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday morning, at at least 106,195 people have died from COVID-19.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.