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Health experts weigh risk between indoor conventions and protests amid GOP convention cancelation

HOUSTON – As the city of Houston moves to cancel the state’s GOP convention, city leaders and health experts are calling it the right move as others are considering it controversial.

“We closed down the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and this convention is no greater or better,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday during a press conference.

Hours before the event was scrapped, the Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey released a statement, in part: “After allowing tens of thousands of protesters to peaceably assemble in the same city, in the same area, without any of the safety precautions and measures we have taken, he is seeking to deny a political party’s critical electoral function that should be equally protected under the constitution.”

Turner said the comparison is not valid because the convention involuntarily puts others at risk.

“When you’re in an indoor event like a conference, it requires ancillary support. So you are involuntarily including other people in order to facilitate that event, that’s the difference,” he said.

Medical professionals also weighed in on the city’s decision to cancel the convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown.

“I don’t see how you can have a convention and operate it safely when you have this level of virus transmission. You can’t really compare it to the protests, that was at a different time,” said Dr. Peter Hotez with the Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Authority said the risk level is higher for an indoor event.

“When it’s an indoor event, it’s clearly a different environment. When it’s a three-day event, it’s clearly different from a several hour event. That’s not to say that the march is not without risk,” he said.

Turner said the bottom line the GOP convention cancellation has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with safety.

“Houston is a hot spot right now in a global pandemic, and we can not have thousands of people gathering inside the George R. Brown,” said Turner.


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