Every person attending the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville this August will be tested daily for the coronavirus as cases spike in Florida.
That will result in thousands of daily tests. The arena where President Donald Trump will formally accept his party’s nomination for a second term seats 15,000 people. Then there are vendors, security staff, and media who work in the surrounding area.
Typically a host city sees an influx of 40,000 to 50,000 people during a political convention when delegates, supporters, security, media, protesters and other visitors are factored in. It’s unclear how the coronavirus pandemic will affect those numbers.
Every person attending President Donald Trump’s Republican National Convention in Jacksonville this August will be tested daily for the coronavirus
The VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville where President Donald Trump will give his convention speech can hold up to 15,000
A health care worker administers COVID-19 tests in Homestead, Fla.
Erin Isaac, the spokeswoman for the Jacksonville host committee, revealed in a memo on Monday that ‘everyone attending the convention within the perimeter will be tested and temperature checked each day,’ according to CNN, which obtained a copy of the email.
And a party official said details on how those thousands of tests will be carried out will be revealed as the August 24 start date gets closer. Some rapid tests – such as the Abbott test the White House uses to test those who will have contact with the president – can give results in 15 minutes.
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said last week that testing would be conducted on the delegates.
‘We’re going to test everybody,’ she said during an appearance on ‘Fox & Friends.’ ‘We’re going to have temperature checks, we’re going to sanitize. We can do this in a safe way and not let politics get in the way.’
No official schedule has been announced yet for the GOP convention, which will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Jacksonville, Florida.
But Trump is expected to give his acceptance speech at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville on August 27, which is the last day of the convention.
Florida, meanwhile, has become the nation’s new hot spot in coronavirus cases.
And some Republican lawmakers have announced they will not attend Trump’s coronation because of concerns about the disease.
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, 80, became the second GOP senator to say he won’t attend. His office said he ‘believes the delegate spots should be reserved for those who have not had that privilege before as he has had.’
Alexander is retiring from the Senate when his term is up this year. In May, he self quarantined after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19.
His announcement comes on the heels of senior Republican Senator Chuck Grassley’s decision not to attend.
Grassley, 86, told reporters from his home state of Iowa on a conference call Monday that he wouldn’t be at the convention.
‘I’m not going to go. And I’m not going to go because of the virus situation,’ he said, according to the Des Moines Register.
He was the first Republican member of Congress to announce he will not attend the August gathering. More are expected to follow the two senators.
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, 80, became the second GOP senator to say he won’t attend the Republican National Convention in August
Senior Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said he won’t be attending the party’s nominating convention for President Donald Trump this August because of coronavirus
Senator Grassley has attended every Republican convention since he was elected to the Senate in 1980 including the 2016 one (above) in Cleveland where Donald Trump accepted the party’s presidential nomination
Senator Grassley is the first Republican member of Congress to announce he won’t go to Jacksonville, Fla., to see President Trump accept the party’s nomination as he did above in 2016
He noted this will be the first Republican National Convention he has missed in 40 years, since he was first elected to the Senate in 1940.
Grassley is the senior most Republican senator and serves as Senate President Pro Temp, which puts him in the line of succession behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He is the second oldest senator in the Senate. Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, 87, is the oldest.
Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said it was too early to tell if the spiking numbers in Florida made it unsafe to host the convention.
‘I think it’s too early to tell,’ he told CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday. ‘We will have to see how this unfolds in Florida and elsewhere around the country.’
Jacksonville instituted a city-wide mask order last week to try and help stem the spread of virus.
Last week about 200 Florida-based doctors, sent a letter to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry asking that the convention be postponed.
The party moved the main part of the convention to Florida after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, could not guarantee the large crowd the president wanted in the original location of Charlotte.
Trump wants to see a convention hall packed with cheering supporters, which Florida officials believed they could deliver.
Florida is further along in the opening process but has had to walk some steps back after coronavirus cases in the state spiked.
Florida has the steepest and most alarming rise in cases in the United States.
In two weeks, the number of total infections there has doubled from 100,000 to more than 200,000 as of Sunday.
Hospitalizations across Florida have also been ticking upward, with nearly 1,700 patients admitted in the past seven days compared with 1,200 the previous week. Five hospitals in the St. Petersburg area were out of intensive care unit beds, officials said. Miami’s Baptist Hospital had only four of its 88 ICU beds available.
One group of state lawmakers is urging Republican Governor Rick DeSantis to make face masks in public mandatory. The Florida Department of Health currently recommends wearing face masks and avoiding crowds.
The state’s beaches remained largely open, per DeSantis’s announcement that he would not issue sweeping shutdowns and that Florida was ‘not going back.’
Several South Florida counties closed their beaches any way, including Miami-Dade. Other beaches were less crowded than expected for a typical holiday over the Fourth of July weekend, but certainly still drew plenty of revelers.
Some Florida beaches and piers required temperature checks and mask wearing at their entrances.
Coronavirus infections are now on the rise in 40 states across the US. The US has seen a 27 percent increase in new COVID-19 cases in the last week compared to the previous seven days. New cases per day nationwide have hit record levels of well over 50,000
Florida set yet another record high number of daily infections on Saturday (right) but, curiously, corresponding increases in the number of deaths have not yet emerged, even though cases have been rising steadily for more than two weeks
Cars are seen as the drivers wait to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing sight in Miami Gardens, Florida
As of Monday, Miami closed its restaurants and gyms too, in an effort to stop the wildfire spread of coronavirus in the city.
DeSantis said at a press briefing on Monday that the average of a person testing positive for the virus was 21. He argued that meant there would be lower death rates from the disease.
He also said he would not issue a statewide mandate to wear a mask or shut down popular tourist attractions like Disney World.
‘I think that where you start to see the spread is in social situations where people let their guard down,’ DeSantis said. ‘Usually at like a private party or something like that.’