WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he has canceled segments of the Republican National Convention scheduled for Jacksonville, Florida in August, citing a “flare-up” of the coronavirus.
“To have a big convention is not the right time," Trump said during his revived daily coronavirus task force briefing from the White House. Convention events will still be held in North Carolina.
Trump moved parts of the GOP convention to Florida last month amid a dispute with North Carolina’s Democratic leaders over holding an event indoors with maskless supporters. But those plans were steadily scaled back as virus cases spiked in Florida and much of the country over the last month.
A small subset of GOP delegates will still gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, to formally renominate Trump on Aug. 24.
Trump said he would deliver an acceptance speech in an alternate form.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference about his administration's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic at the White House on July 23, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The president announced news of the cancellation then repeated his wishes for schools to reopen across the country.
“We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million American children from going to school, harming their mental, physical and emotional development,” Trump said. “Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring their parents can go to work and provide for their families.”
“Children have a very strong immune system,” Trump added. “They seem to be able to fight it off and not have a problem.”
But health experts say the evidence behind what role children play in the coronavirus pandemic and how it affects them remains unclear.
Several studies suggest, but don’t prove, that children are less likely to become infected than adults and more likely to have only mild symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had counted more than 175,000 confirmed cases in kids aged 17 and under as of July 23, accounting for roughly 6% of all confirmed cases.
Not knowing if children are infected makes it difficult for schools to reopen safely, as they can potentially spread the virus to teachers and other school administrators, as well as family members at home.
Three Arizona summer school teachers who followed the CDC guidelines while in the same classroom recently contracted the virus, and one of them died.
Following a three-month hiatus, the daily coronavirus briefings began this week as the country faces surging case counts and ICU bed shortages across the country.
The U.S. also faced a grim milestone on Thursday of 4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. In total, there have been more than 143,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus in the U.S., with more than 625,000 deaths confirmed worldwide, according to July 23 data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.