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N.C. Gov. Cooper won't guarantee GOP can hold 'full' convention in August

The final day of the Republican National Convention takes place at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, on July 21, 2016. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said public health officials don't know if coronavirus will subside enough to gold the RNC in Charlotte in August. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
The final day of the Republican National Convention takes place at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, on July 21, 2016. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said public health officials don't know if coronavirus will subside enough to gold the RNC in Charlotte in August. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

June 2 (UPI) -- North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper told the Republican Party on Tuesday that he can't guarantee they'll be able to have a "full" national convention in Charlotte since public health officials don't know the level of threat the coronavirus will pose in August.

He said he's willing to talk to party leaders about "planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings."

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"With the nation, the state of North Carolina and the city of Charlotte still under states of emergency it's important to conduct the [Republican National Convention] accordingly," he said in a letter addressed to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and CEO and President Marcia Lee Kelly.

"As much as we want the conditions surrounding COVID-19 to be favorable enough for you to hold the convention you describe in late August, it is very unlikely. Neither public health officials nor I will risk the health and safety of North Carolinians by providing the guarantee you seek."

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Cooper's letter came a week after President Donald Trump threatened to cancel plans to hold the convention in Charlotte if the governor didn't guarantee to lift coronavirus-related restrictions to allow thousands to attend.

"Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena," Trump said in a series of four tweets on May 25.

"Plans are being made by many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans, and others, to head to beautiful North Carolina in August," Trump added. "They must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. ... This is not something I want to do. Thank you, and I LOVE the people of North Carolina!"

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The Republican National Convention is scheduled to take place Aug. 24-27 at the Spectrum Center. It was originally expected to bring some 50,000 people to the city. In July, workers are expected to begin a multimillion dollar upgrade of Charlotte's Spectrum Center arena, for which the Republican National Committee has said it will raise $65 million.

Democrats will finish their convention in Milwaukee the week before, and have said they will alter events, making the convention largely virtual, to follow health safety precautions during the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, North Carolina has had nearly 30,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 921 deaths. The state's Department of Health said 716 people are currently hospitalized from the disease.

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