"We've said from the start that we are committed to hosting a safe and successful 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte," convention President and CEO Marcia Lee Kelly said in a statement

By Maria Pasquini
May 21, 2020 05:30 PM
Advertisement
2016 RNC
Republican National Convention

The Republican party remains unwavering in its commitment to hold an in-person convention this summer.

Earlier this week, Republican National Convention chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told reporters that they “will not be holding a virtual convention,” according to the Associated Press. In a nod to coronavirus concerns, McDaniel said that a medical advisor had been consulted, and also noted that the summer event, scheduled to begin on Aug. 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina, is still “quite a ways away.”

“We’ve said from the start that we are committed to hosting a safe and successful 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte,” convention President and CEO Marcia Lee Kelly said in a statement on Thursday while announcing veteran health expert Dr. Jeffrey Runge had been chosen for the role, according to the Charlotte Observer.

“We recognize this hasn’t been done before, but we remain committed to leading the path forward so that we can safely re-open America and create a five-star event for attendees and guests this August,” Kelly continued.

Despite their public statements, Republican officials are quietly looking into contingency plans, which would involve putting a limit on the number of attendees, according to a new report from The New York Times.

2016 RNC
Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention in 2016
| Credit: Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty

President Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential nominee for the party, has gone on record saying there was “no way” the convention would be canceled.

“We are definitely planning — it’s toward the end of August,” he said in March, according to The Hill. “Somebody was asking today, ‘Will you cancel your convention?’ I said no way I’m going to cancel the convention. We’re going to have the convention, it’s going to be incredible.”

In early April, the Democratic National Convention announced that due to coronavirus restrictions, they would be postponing the event until Aug. 17. The delay will give convention planners “more time to determine the most appropriate structure for this historic event,” according to a statement at the time from the DNC.

Although the party has yet to announce their plans, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has supported the idea of holding a virtual convention. The DNC began taking steps to allow for such a move earlier this month, although the resolution has yet to be put to a vote, CNN reported.

“While the Trump administration is ignoring the public health landscape, presuming things will miraculously improve in 13 weeks and moving forward with plans for a massive in-person convention, Democrats are acknowledging the severity of this pandemic that’s already killed over 90,000 people and taking proactive steps to prevent more people from getting sick,” Joe Solmonese, the chief executive of the Democratic National Convention, told The New York Times in a statement.

2016 RNC
Donald Trump and Mike Pence
| Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Casting doubt on the feasibility of holding the event in North Carolina, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, a Democrat, recently hinted that should health concerns be too great, the city might not be able to honor their contract.

"We have a contract with the RNC to host this convention, but we also have a commitment to our community that we will keep them safe and well," Lyles said during an MSNBC interview earlier this week. On Twitter, Lyles added that “my #1 priority is the health and safety of Charlotteans" and that any decisions "must be made in their interest and based in science and facts.”

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat whom Trump has accused of “playing politics” when it comes to reopening the state, recently announced the statewide stay-at-home order has been lifted. As it stands, indoor gatherings of over 10 people are currently prohibited.

Confirmed coronavirus cases are currently increasing in North Carolina, with the majority of cases and deaths occurring in Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located according to The New York Times. As of May 21, there have been at least 20,932 confirmed cases and 732 deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.