HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) — Houston’s mayor wants the Texas Republican Party to cancel their upcoming in-person convention in the city. The event is expected to attract some 6,000 people to the George R. Brown Convention Center.
The concern, of course, is that an event with so many people will pose a public heath risk amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Sylvester Turner has threatened to shut down the convention if it violates rules intended to prevent the spread of the virus.
“All of our conferences, all of our conventions that were scheduled to be in the city of Houston at the George R. Brown have canceled or have been rescheduled until next year, with the exception of one and that’s the state republican convention,” Turner said.
The mayor is calling on the political party to cancel its upcoming in person convention, in favor of a virtual one.
The two day event — scheduled to start July 16 — would bring an estimated 6,000 people from across the state to downtown Houston, and there would be people who would have to work at the event.
The Texas Medical Association has withdrawn as an advertiser. After the announcement Dr. David Persse, public health authority for the Houston Health Department, said, “Another large event like this, which is known as a super spreader event, is probably not the most responsible thing to do.”
Last week the State Republican Executive Committee voted 40-20 to go forward with the in-person event.
Republican Party of Texas chair James Roy Dickey said, “Online voting with an integration to YouTube, Vimeo or Zoom. Their platform has API — automatic programming interface — access that we are utilizing to simplify the administration of the meetings and make navigation for delegates as simple as possible.”
Monday night during an emergency meeting Dickey detailed a virtual contingency plan as a last resort. “If we must go online we will necessarily be limiting delegate rights,” he said.
If the in-person meeting happens, the convention will have to follow a long list of safety-related conditions as spelled out by Mayor Turner, including daily health checks for attendees, accommodations throughout to account for social distancing and requiring all in attendance to wear masks or face coverings — measures the party says it’s already taking.
In a statement, the chairman said, “With these precautions currently in place, the Republican Party of Texas intends to proceed with an in-person convention next week in Houston,” and that, “”Mayor Turner must not have had the information about the measures being voluntarily implemented.”
The Mayor said health inspectors will be on site and that they will have the authority to shut the convention down if there’s a violation. “These are serious times,” Turner said. “And this pandemic is very serious. And we take it very seriously.”
Dr. Persse warns the convention could be even more dangerous if a mutation of the virus is able to survive in the air.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The CNN Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report.)