The Republican convention in Jacksonville, Fla., next month could be moved from an indoor arena to an outdoor stadium as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the state, officials with knowledge of the convention’s planning told The Washington Post.
While a formal decision has not been made, two outdoor sports stadiums near the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena — where the convention is currently set to be held — are under consideration, according to The Post.
The news comes after several Florida lawyers filed a lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville for hosting the event, among others. The complaint argued that holding the convention at the Jacksonville arena, which has a capacity of 15,000, will “result in massive spread of COVID-19″ and poses a significant risk to “the health and welfare of the community of Jacksonville.”
The potential relocation from indoors to outdoors is just the latest adjustment the RNC has made in recent weeks, as uncertainty over the plausibility of holding the event in-person swells. The convention was moved last month from North Carolina after state officials frustrated the Trump campaign with justifiable concerns about the public health implications of holding an event of this magnitude in-person and at-capacity.
President Trump has also remained immovable on holding the event, even as new COVID-19 cases explode throughout Florida and other Sun Belt states. Florida tallied close to 10,000 new cases on Wednesday, and set a daily record last Saturday with just about 11,500 reported new infections.
According to The Post, the President was recently given an overview of possible relocation options for the event, which is where he is expected to accept the Republican nomination for a second-term and deliver remarks. Trump will reportedly make a decision in coming days.
Republicans involved in the planning have said that lower risk of transmission outdoors could help mitigate concerns about exposure to the virus.
Several Republican senators have already said they will not attend. A precedent was also set earlier this week when Texas Republican Party leaders said that elected officials in Texas, including Republican governor Greg Abbott (TX), would deliver remarks at the Republican Party of Texas Convention remotely via video rather than in person. The Texas meeting was later cancelled to the relief of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D), who had rallied against the in-person gathering in his city for weeks.
At least eight campaign staffers and a few Secret Service agents tested positive for the coronavirus after the President’s rally in Tulsa last month, leaving some on his team concerned about the infection rate at indoor events where participants opt not to wear masks.