U.S. President Trump Throws Tantrum Over Social Distancing Rules at Upcoming Convention

A man walks past a poster depicting President Donald Trump in the Shaw neighbourhood of Washington on May 25, 2020.  (Photo: AP)
A man walks past a poster depicting President Donald Trump in the Shaw neighbourhood of Washington on May 25, 2020. (Photo: AP)

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to move the upcoming Republican National Convention out of North Carolina if the governor doesn’t guarantee its convention space can ignore social distancing guidelines. The convention is scheduled to occur from August 24 to 27 at Charlotte’s Spectrum Centre, which can seat over 19,000 people for basketball games, but the space is expected to hold 50,000 Republican attendees after a remodelling that’s scheduled for July.

“Unfortunately, Democrat [sic] Governor @RoyCooperNC, is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “In other words, we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space.”

Trump continued his tweet tantrum by insisting that he must be told “immediately” whether “the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.”

North Carolina’s governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, released a statement about the convention on Twitter, noting that he’s working with the Republican National Committee about the plans for the convention, but that he’s “relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety.”

North Carolina is suffering from a surge of new infections, with 1,107 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the state’s largest single-day jump ever. The holiday weekend appears to have slowed the number of cases being reported, with 497 on Sunday and 742 on Memorial Day, though if the trends in recent weeks continue, covid-19 cases will rise.

As you can see from this snapshot of North Carolina’s new cases from the state’s Health and Human Services website, the state is definitely moving in the wrong direction.

Screenshot: North Carolina DHHS

North Carolina also reported its first case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) last week. The syndrome was first identified in the UK, causing terrible inflammation in children and sometime death in kids who have contracted covid-19. New York has identified at least 100 cases of the syndrome in children in the past month.

But none of that appears to deter President Trump, a man who is more than happy to watching hundreds of thousands of Americans die on his watch, provided he doesn’t get the blame.

Even Fox News questioned the wisdom of having so many people in a crowded space, which is really saying something. Fox has been one of America’s worst purveyors of disinformation about the pandemic, leading many people to believe that even something as simple as wearing a mask is an infringement on your freedom.

“They’re still seeing rising cases and if they’re following that White House blueprint that was put forth by the experts, then they’re not ready to say that they’re going to be able to accommodate 50,000 people in indoor settings come end of August,” Dr. Nicole Saphier said on Fox News yesterday.

Trump, who has been at war with his own government’s guidelines for reopening, has wanted to have it both ways for some time. The president wants everything to open back up immediately, claiming credit for any successes, and yet wants none of the blame for when people suffer from disease during those reopenings.

Meanwhile, one hair salon in North Carolina is reportedly not allowing anyone who works at the local Tyson poultry plant enter the premises because meatpacking facilities have been hit hard by the pandemic. At least 17,000 meatpackers have been diagnosed with covid-19 across the country and 66 workers have died, according to the New York Times, though the meatpacking industry continues to hide the real numbers.

North Carolina is suffering, but the U.S. more broadly isn’t doing well either, with over 1.6 million coronavirus cases and 98,223 deaths, according to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker, the most in the world by far.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut hinted on Twitter that Trump’s tantrum was all part of a plan to move the Republican convention to a Trump-branded property.

“Listen, the 2020 Republican convention was always going to be at a Trump property,” Murphy tweeted. “If you hadn’t figured that out, you haven’t been paying attention.”

Trump had previously floated his Miami resort as the potential spot to host a G7 meeting, something that even Republicans seemed disturbed by at the time. Trump removed his property from consideration after an outcry and instead planned the meeting for Camp David. The president is making money every single day from the presidency, something that is plainly illegal.

But Republicans seem to welcome the idea of heading south for the convention, at least according to a new statement released by Florida’s Republican Party overnight.

“The Republican Party of Florida would welcome the opportunity to host the Republican National Convention,” state GOP party chairperson Joe Gruters told the Tampa Bay Times. “Florida is committed to ensuring a safe, secure and successful event for President Trump and all attendees.”

Best of luck, folks. You’re going to need it.