After weeks of tense correspondence between Republican National Convention organizers and North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper about the size and scope of the party's planned convention in August, Cooper on Tuesday finally told the GOP he would not provide the guarantee that President Donald Trump has demanded.
In a letter to Republican officials, Cooper said it's "very unlikely" that the Republican National Convention will be held at full-scale participation.
"As much as we want the conditions surrounding COVID-19 to be favorable enough for you to hold the Convention you describe in late August, it is very unlikely," Cooper said. "Neither public health officials nor I will risk the health and safety of North Carolinians by providing the guarantee you seek."
Trump had repeatedly demanded a guarantee from Cooper, a Democrat, that his renominating convention in Charlotte be allowed to occur without strict social distancing or limitations on the number of attendees allowed to pack into the city's convention center.
But Cooper made it clear Tuesday that he did not envision the same convention Trump does.
The letter puts pressure on convention organizers to find another city willing to host tens of thousands of Trump supporters later this summer. This task was made infinitely more difficult this week after the nationwide outbreak of violent protests against police brutality.
National political conventions have traditionally drawn thousands of protesters even in years without the added crises of a pandemic, 40 million Americans out of work and now, widespread civil unrest.
The demands that would likely be placed on any city's infrastructure and public safety apparatus, in order for that city to provide convention security and pandemic-level sanitation are difficult to quantify, but surely enormous.
The White House declined to comment. Cooper's office did not immediately return a request for comment.
In a tweet, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel shifted the blame on Cooper, saying he's "dragging his feet" on providing guidance on moving forward with the convention.
"We hope to still conduct the business of our convention in Charlotte, but we have an obligation to our delegates and nominee to begin visiting the multiple cities who have reached out in recent days about hosting an historic event to show that America is open for business," she added.
When the saga over the location of the convention first broke out, multiple governors and GOP officials from places such as Texas and Georgia offered their states as potential hosts.
The development comes after weeks of strongly worded letters in which officials from North Carolina repeatedly asked the RNC to come up with a detailed plan on how to carry out the convention safely while adhering to social distancing guidelines to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
Just last week, North Carolina asked again in a letter for the RNC to provide details on its plans to enforce social distancing. But the RNC has skirted the issue of releasing a social distancing plan in its discussions with North Carolina.
In a letter released Thursday, the RNC outlined a number of safety protocols such as temperature scans ahead of entry and the availability of disinfectant in the convention site.
But absent from their plan is a way to encourage social distancing and cap the number of people who are able to attend the convention.
The coronavirus outbreak has spread to dozens of countries, with more than 6.2 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 375,987 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 1.8 million cases in the United States and at least 105,147 deaths, according to the latest tallies.