GOP OR­DERS CON­VEN­TION TESTS

Repub­li­cans man­date ‘in-home’ COVID-19 screen­ing, then an­other af­ter ar­rival in Jack­sonville

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD -

With COVID-19 cases spik­ing in Florida, Repub­li­can con­ven­tion­go­ers will have to take an “in-home” COVID-19 test be­fore they de­part for Jack­sonville, paid for by the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Con­ven­tion­go­ers will have to agree to be tested twice — at home and when they get to Florida.

This comes as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump — who moved the main con­ven­tion venue to Florida from North Carolina to es­cape coro­n­avirus pan­demic re­stric­tions — is con­fronted with the re­al­ity that Florida COVID-19 cases are surg­ing at some 10,000 a day.

The RNC con­ven­tion memo, ob­tained by the Sun-Times, also notes of­fi­cials are cut­ting back on the num­ber of peo­ple who can at­tend Jack­sonville events, lim­it­ing the at­ten­dance of al­ter­nate del­e­gates and guests.

What the RNC is call­ing “The Con­ven­tion Cel­e­bra­tion” in Jack­sonville starts the evening of Aug. 24. Trump is ex­pected to ac­cept his 2020 nom­i­na­tion on Thurs­day, Aug. 27.

A rea­son Trump yanked the con­ven­tion from Char­lotte was that he wanted a full­blown con­ven­tion. How­ever, with Florida of­fi­cials strug­gling with spik­ing COVID-19 cases, RNC of­fi­cials are ad­mit­ting Trump won’t get the con­ven­tion he orig­i­nally en­vi­sioned.

There will be some of­fi­cial party busi­ness tak­ing place in Char­lotte with a small num­ber of party of­fi­cials, with guests not en­cour­aged to at­tend.

The memo also said the health and safety pro­to­cols in Jack­sonville will “in­clude, but are not limited to, on-site tem­per­a­ture checks, avail­able PPE, ag­gres­sive san­i­tiz­ing pro­to­cols, and avail­able COVID-19 test­ing.”

“. . . Ev­ery po­ten­tial con­ven­tion par­tic­i­pant (at­tend­ing ei­ther Char­lotte or Jack­sonville) will be sent an in-home COVID-19 test paid for by the RNC. This in­cludes guests of del­e­gates and al­ter­nate del­e­gates. Po­ten­tial con­ven­tion par­tic­i­pants will need to take the in-home test and send back to the test­ing ven­dor.

“. . . At­ten­dees are asked to con­duct a self-ad­min­is­tered test prior to de­part­ing for con­ven­tion and will be asked to test again prior to the event with the pres­i­dent.”

Peo­ple will have to agree to al­low the test­ing com­pany to turn their re­sults over to the RNC.

The wear­ing of masks has ex­ploded as a po­lit­i­cal is­sue, and Trump has been re­sist­ing wear­ing a mask — un­til Mon­day. On Mon­day, with cases soar­ing in a num­ber of states — in­clud­ing those he won in 2016 — the pres­i­dent posted on Twit­ter a pic­ture of him­self wear­ing a mask. He said in his post: “We are United in our ef­fort to de­feat the In­vis­i­ble China Virus, and many peo­ple say that it is Pa­tri­otic to wear a face mask when you can’t so­cially dis­tance. There is no­body more Pa­tri­otic than me, your fa­vorite Pres­i­dent.”

Still, Trump’s con­ven­tion will not man­date masks. The memo said, when it comes to masks, “We will fol­low the lo­cal and state health guide­lines in place at the time of the con­ven­tion.”

ALEX EDEL­MAN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES FILE

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump moved the main GOP con­ven­tion venue to Florida from North Carolina to es­cape pan­demic re­stric­tions.

LYNN SWEET D.C. DECODER lsweet@sun­times.com | @lynnsweet

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