There was a brief moment during the heady, carefree days of a few months ago, when it seemed like the whole of the traveling circus that is the Republican National Convention would descend on Charlotte, North Carolina, for a week of enthusiastic, obsequious, unsurprising "dear leader"-ing in support of President Trump's re-nomination.
Those sweet springtime dreams were crushed, however, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — and, in particular, the Trump administration's abject failure to contain it — forcing the GOP to reimagine their convention plans. First they eyeballed Florida, until it became clear that the state's surging infection rate might pose a problem. Finally, the GOP settled on a dispersed event — one in which the unsexy "business" of the RNC would continue in Charlotte as initially planned, while the splashy made-for-TV moments would take place on White House lawn, legality be damned.
Now, with the convention officially over and done with, officials in Mecklenburg County, which covers the Charlotte metropolitan area, have begun to assess the impact of hosting this abbreviated version of the RNC. And wouldn't you know it? Even holding the limited "business" side of things as a mass gathering in the middle of a pandemic has proven itself to be a terrible idea. Who could have guessed!
From the Mecklenburg County Public Health office:
Approximately 792 COVID-19 tests were conducted among individuals attending or providing support to the Republican National Convention (RNC) Meeting in the City of Charlotte. Of these, 2 attendees and 2 individuals supporting the event tested positive for COVID-19.
If anything, the fact that what everyone feared might happen, happened, is a sign of just how blasé RNC attendees were about the various social distancing and mask rules put in place during what organizers admitted was a "high-risk" event.
According to a press release issued by county health officials Friday, the four infected attendees "were immediately issued isolation instructions and any known close contacts were notified and issued quarantine instructions."
News that the RNC's Charlotte portion did, indeed, result in more coronavirus cases for attendees came less than 24 hours after Trump officially accepted the Republican Party's nomination at a decidedly un-socially distanced rally attended by nearly 2,000 people on the White House's lawn.
Perhaps more alarming, though, is the fact that this may only be the beginning of the public's understanding of how the RNC served as a pandemic petri dish. While Mecklenburg Public Health Director Gibbie Harris insisted earlier this week that there has been no significant elevation in risk to the greater Charlotte community, a full "After Action Report" from health officials, detailing further testing results, infection rates, and disease vectors, may still be weeks away — "unless," the MCPH noted, "there is a recognized threat to the public's health."
So, stay tuned!