By Dan McCaleb | The Center Square
President Donald Trump said Thursday that the GOP convention scheduled for Jacksonville, Florida, next month will not occur because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the state.
“I talked to my team and I said, ‘the timing for this event is not right, it’s just not right,'” Trump said at a White House media briefing. … “I said there’s nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe.”
The convention was scheduled for Aug. 24-27, but Florida is among Sun Belt and western states that recently have seen significant spikes in coronavirus cases and deaths.
The Republican National Committee moved the convention’s “performative aspects” from Charlotte, N.C., to Jacksonville, Fla., in June after Trump said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper forced him to cancel in Charlotte by requesting a scaled-down convention because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I told my team it’s time to cancel the Jacksonville portion of the GOP convention,” Trump said, adding that delegates will vote on the party’s nominee in North Carolina. Trump will be the party’s nominee.
The president said he spoke to Florida Gov. Ron Desantis about the decision, adding the state will “be doing very well very shortly.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams issued a joint statement thanking Trump for the decision.
“We appreciate President Donald Trump considering our public health and safety concerns in making this incredibly difficult decision,” they said in a statement posted on the city of Jacksonville’s Twitter feed. “As always, in Jacksonville public safety is our number one priority. President Trump has once again reaffirmed his commitment to the safety of Jacksonville Florida and the people of the United States of America.”
Also Thursday, Trump said that teachers are essential workers and urged most U.S. schools to reopen if they can do so safely. He noted that the American Society of Pediatrics says it’s important that schools reopen and quoted a statement the organization made.
“The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020,” the AAP said in a statement.
Long periods away from school, the AAP said, interrupts support services for children and often results in social isolation. These factors make it “difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation,” the academy adds. “This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk.”
Trump said remote learning, which a number of school districts across the country have decided to launch the fall school year with, hurts lower income and minority students the most.
Schools can reopen safely as long as they follow mitigation efforts such as social distancing, face coverings and regular cleaning standards to protect the health of students, teachers and other staff, he said.
He said more than 5 million Americans won’t be able to return to jobs if schools don’t reopen.
“That’s a problem,” he said.