The in-person portion of the Republican National Convention, planned for Jacksonville, Florida, has been canceled. President Donald Trump announced at the beginning of his latest coronavirus press conference Thursday. The decision comes while Florida continues to see a spike in coronavirus cases and after Jacksonville City Council President Tommy Hazouri said he opposed Mayor Lenny Curry's bill on funding the event. Trump, who forced the RNC to move from Charlotte to Jacksonville, said it was "just not right" to hold the event during the ongoing pandemic.
"I looked at my team and I said the timing for this event is not right. It's just not right with what's been happening," Trump said Thursday, reports NPR. "They said 'Sir, we can make this work very easily' ... I said there's nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe, whether it's from the China virus or the radical left mob."
Republican delegates will still gather in North Carolina to officially nominate Trump for re-election, the president said. "I care deeply about the people of Florida and everywhere else, frankly, in this country and even in the world who would be coming into the state. And I don't want to do anything to upset it. They will be doing very well very shortly," Trump said, reports USA Today.
The surprising decision came after Hazouri told the Florida Times-Union he opposed Curry's bill, which would have given the mayor authority to spend $33 million in federal security funds on the convention. The convention was set to take part in Downtown Jacksonville between Aug. 25 through 27 after Trump complained that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said masks would be required to hold the convention in the state. A recent poll of Jacksonville residents found that most did not approve of hosting the event in the city.
On Monday, Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams said police in Jacksonville could not provide security for the event due to poor planning. "Every effort has been made, countless hours spent, and all have been committed to the mission to keep our city safe. And at this point, we're simply past the point of no return to execute the event safely," Williams said, reports NPR. Williams noted that it would not be possible for Jacksonville to quickly adapt whatever plans were in place for Charlotte. He explained that any event like the RNC would need 18 months of planning.
Federal health officials said Thursday that 4 million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus, while almost 150,000 people have died from the virus. In Florida alone, 389,868 people have tested positive and 5,518 people have died since the pandemic began, according to state health officials.