Four people at the Republican National Convention’s events in Charlotte, N.C., have tested positive for Covid-19, the county’s authorities announced Friday.
Though the convention’s Charlotte programming was drastically scaled back due to coronavirus concerns, two attendees and two members of support staff tested positive for the virus. Health officials for Mecklenburg County, which contains Charlotte, said 792 Covid-19 tests were conducted on staff and attendees at the convention.
Michael Ahrens, RNC communications director, said in a statement to POLITICO that the impacted attendees and support staff tested positive on arrival at the convention and were sent home. They had tested negative before arriving at the convention, Ahrens said.
“The RNC had diligent safety protocols in place, including testing all attendees before arriving in Charlotte, and again upon arrival,” Ahrens said.
The location for the RNC shifted around the South in the lead-up to the convention amid safety concerns with having thousands of cheering supporters in close proximity during the pandemic. Initially slated for Charlotte, the planned convention location was moved to Jacksonville, Fla., in June after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said a Charlotte rally would need to be sized down to accommodate coronavirus guidelines. Those plans were canceled in July with President Donald Trump acknowledging “it’s just not the right time” to hold a “big, crowded convention.”
The convention ended up being split between Charlotte and Washington, with several speakers participating remotely. Convention organizers said there were regular temperature checks and wellness questionnaires, as well as mask and social distancing requirements. Attendees were instructed to wear a safety fob to monitor their health.
But during the Trump’s final address Thursday night to accept the party’s nomination, attendees were closely packed together with little space for social distancing on the White House South Lawn. Few attendees could be seen wearing masks during Trump’s address.