Four people involved with the Republican National Convention events in Charlotte, North Carolina have tested positive for coronavirus, Mecklenburg County officials announced Friday morning.
The Charlotte Observer was the first to report that two attendees and two support staff at the RNC had been infected with the virus. All of the infected individuals were told to isolate immediately. Close contacts of those who returned positive tests were also encouraged to quarantine, county officials said in a statement.
The announcement comes after county health officials had expressed concerns at an RNC meeting in Charlotte on Monday, noting that convention-goers were largely ignoring social distancing measures and many were not wearing masks.
It may be weeks before the true impact of fresh cases linked to the RNC’s presence in the North Carolina city becomes clear.
Earlier this month Dr. Jeffrey Runge, the RNC’s senior advisor for health and safety, said the gathering — which had been cut back from its original plans to host more than 50,000 people to a largely virtual convention with its central hub at the White House — still posed a “high risk.” More than 300 delegates traveled from around the country to attend.
Sweeping protocols were still expected to be enforced to prevent any potential coronavirus outbreaks at the event.
Upon arrival in Charlotte last week, the Observer reported that delegates were tested at registration and were regularly checked for symptoms. According to officials, roughly 800 tests had been administered among both attendees and convention staff.
But over the weekend, delegates mingled for business meetings in a hotel ballroom and in events around the city that did not mandate masks — increasing the potential for infection ahead of Monday’s event at the Charlotte Convention Center.
On Monday, delegates were seated at individual well-spaced tables for most of the RNC’s formal business.
But according to the Observer, few wore masks and some even formed close circles and shook hands as they waited for an appearance by Vice President Mike Pence. Delegates similarly gathered near the stage as President Donald Trump wrapped up his remarks on Monday.