Mayor calls for state GOP to cancel GRB event amid COVID-19 crisis; top doc says it has potential to be ‘super spreader’ event

HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is calling for the Texas GOP’s executive committee to cancel its in-person convention as the city faces the COVID-19 pandemic, and make the event a virtual one.

The in-person convention is slated for the George R. Brown Convention Center on July 16. Roughly 6,000 people are expected to attend.

If the event is not canceled, Turner outlined several health guidelines -- from health screenings to social distancing measures -- that would need to be enacted for the event to go forward. If the measures are not strictly adhered to, Turner said health inspectors -- who would be present during the entire event -- could shut it down.

Here is a list of the measures Turner said the convention would need to enact in order for it to proceed.

  • Must enforce the governor’s executive order on the use of face coverings, mask, face shields, face coverings “That will be a must not only to get into the convention, but also participating in convention,” Turner said.
  • Must modify the layouts of the convention to promote social distance to at least six feet. host smaller events in larger rooms, use multiple entrances and exits and discourage ...waiting areas
  • Block off rows or sections of seating in order to space people six feet apart -- left, right, back and front -- eliminate any lines and encouraging distancing by providing signs
  • Install physical barriers and guides to support social distancing, serve individual plated meals, offer grab-and-go options
  • Limit the use of elevators
  • Encourage attendees to use transportation options to limit close contact with others
  • Limit non-essential visitors and volunteers and activities involving external groups or organizations especially
  • Conduct daily health checks,, such as temperature screens or symptoms checking on all staff and attendees, use wrist bands to validate health track and use sign-in sheets
  • Keep a mass list of all attendees that include identifying information
  • Put in place communication systems for individuals self-report COVID-19 symptoms
  • Attendees who develop symptoms or who test positive for COVID-19 during the convention, two weeks following must notify convention organizers, coordinate with public health
  • There will be health inspectors and monitors that will be at the convention at the entire time. Health inspectors have authority to close convention at that point, Turner said.

“These are serious times and this pandemic is serious and we take it very seriously,” Turner said.

In addition to Turner’s remarks about the convention, Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse echoed the mayor’s call for the event to become virtual, which he said has the potential to become a “super spreader” event.

Persse also mentioned that the event -- with new information that the virus could potentially be airborne and not just droplet spread -- could be “triply dangerous.”

“We’re hearing these testimonials from people who are so sick they were afraid they were going to die, and there are some people who are so sick that they’re afraid that they weren’t going to die. They are so sick that they would rather have died than to suffer anymore. So the fact that it’s younger people who are getting it and people aren’t dying as much completely misses the fact that this virus when people are getting sick and ending up in the hospital are having terrible, terrible times. Now they’re families are going through terrible, terrible times as they’re worrying about their loved one that’s in an intensive care unit. And they are suffering with a capital S. So please let us not underestimate -- just because people are dying at the rate that they may have been -- that this virus is any less dangerous or painful to those who get it.”

Turner said in Houston there were 963 new COVID-19 cases. For more statistics, including charts with the latest information, go here.

In addition, Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on their departments.

You can watch the full press conference in the video below.

Watch live: Houston mayor, city officials to discuss hospitalizations, number of COVID-19 cases

Watch live: Houston mayor, city officials to discuss hospitalizations, number of COVID-19 cases MORE--> https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2020/07/06/houston-mayor-city-officials-to-discuss-hospitalizations-number-of-covid-19-cases/

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Monday, July 6, 2020

Turner shared this update Monday on social media about wearing masks as we head into the new week.

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