Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday afternoon said that city officials are canceling the Texas Republican Party’s in-person convention originally scheduled for next week.
The cancelation came on the heels of Turner saying earlier Wednesday during a virtual city council meeting that his administration was investigating ways to cancel it. Turner added that he directed the city’s legal department to work with the Houston First Corporation, which operates the convention center, in reviewing the contract with the state’s GOP.
According to the Texas Tribune, Turner said Houston First officials issued a letter Wednesday afternoon to the State Republican Executive Committee, the state party’s governing board, to cancel the convention. The event was originally scheduled to take place July 16-18 and would potentially draw about 6,000 attendees.
“These are some very serious times,” Turner said at a news conference, according to the Texas Tribune. “Simply, the public health concerns outweighed anything else.”
Turner added that the contract cancellation between Houston First Corporation and the state’s GOP means that the convention is restricted from being held at the George R. Brown Convention Center or any other facility in Houston, but that it is permitted to possibly continue virtually.
“I am the mayor of every single person in this city, and if you’re not willing to step up and do the right thing, I am not going to divorce my responsibility and my child,” Turner said, according to ABC 13. “We closed down the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and this convention is no greater or better.”
The cancelation of the Texas Republican Party’s convention comes amid Texas, alongside Arizona and Florida, emerging as coronavirus hotspots. On Tuesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 10,028 new coronavirus cases statewide, pushing the total number of cases to more than 200,000 across the state.
In the past two weeks, coronavirus-related hospitalizations have more than doubled in Texas. On Tuesday, officials reported that 9,268 people were hospitalized in state hospitals due to contracting the coronavirus.