Trump nixes in-person Florida GOP conclave as US virus cases pass 4 mn

Washington, Jul 23 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Thursday cancelled the in-person Republican National Convention scheduled for Aug. 25-27 in Jacksonville, Florida, one of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, even as confirmed cases nationwide exceeded four million.

“I told my team it’s time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida, component of the GOP Convention. We will be starting in North Carolina for the Monday, as has always been planned, we were never taking that off,” Trump said at a Thursday afternoon White House press conference.

He added that the meeting of Republican delegates in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Aug. 24 – an event where he will be officially designated as the party’s presidential candidate for the November election – will be held as planned.

Originally, the convention had been scheduled exclusively for Charlotte, but Trump forced the GOP to transfer a large portion of it to Florida after local authorities in North Carolina limited attendance at the selected venue due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trump has wanted a mass rally within a crowded convention hall.

Republicans intended to host 15,000 people at an open-air stadium in Jacksonville for Trump’s speech accepting the party’s presidential nomination and other political events.

“I have to protect the American people,” Trump asserted after this week doing an about face regarding his stance on the coronavirus, now urging the public to wear face masks and avoid large gatherings.

Trump said he “just felt it was wrong” to hold an in-person convention now, adding that “We have to be vigilant and we have to be careful and we also have to set an example.”

“So, the delegates are going to North Carolina, and they’ll be doing the nomination,” he said, further remarking that “We’re going to do some other things with tele-rallies and online … I’ll still do a convention speech in a different form, but we won’t do a big, crowded convention, per se. It’s just not the right time for that.”

The Democrats recently announced the cancellation of a large portion of their own party convention, which was to have been held before the GOP event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but which now will be done “virtually,” although certain elements of the conclave – such as former Vice President Joe Biden’s speech accepting the party’s presidential nomination – will still be done in person, albeit in a reduced format.

Meanwhile, the US on Thursday surpassed four million confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic amid resurgences in Covid-19 in several states, including California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.

According to the Johns Hopkins University’s ongoing independent tally, a total of 4,005,414 confirmed virus cases have been detected in the US so far and 143,820 people have died.

In recent days, the country has registered an average daily increase in infections of more than 60,000, along with more than 1,000 deaths, figures that have not been seen since June.

Given the surge in the virus, Trump has radically changed his tone on the pandemic, now warning that it will “get worse” before it gets better and urging people to wear face masks.

The variety of death tolls originally projected by many medical professionals and the administration have been exceeded in recent weeks after many states elected to reopen their economies without having brought the virus under control.

Now, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which the White House generally relies on, estimates that some 220,000 people will have died from Covid-19 in this country by the time of the Nov. 3 election.

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