Houston mayor cites COVID-19 in last-minute order canceling state GOP convention

While Texas Republicans were looking forward to a big week, Houston’s Democratic mayor put an abrupt end to their political plans.

Mayor Sylvester Turner canceled the Texas state GOP convention on Wednesday, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as the reason, according to NPR.

“A global health crisis”

The mayor said a recent spike in the coronavirus infection rate throughout the community has made it impossible to host a safe event. Some critics, however, see it as an effort to stifle enthusiasm among Republicans statewide ahead of November’s election.

“The public health concern for our first responders, convention workers, and those who would have attended weighed heavily in our decision making,” Turner said in his announcement, as NPR reported.

He went on to describe Houston as being “in the midst of a global health crisis,” asserting that local officials are “doing everything in our power to combat” the virus’s impact on the community.

The Texas Republican Party’s three-day convention was originally scheduled to kick off on July 16. Party officials filed a suit against the mayor and the city on Thursday, according to the local KHOU 11.

Turner’s last-minute cancellation gives the GOP just a week to organize a virtual convention for state and party officials. Nevertheless, the mayor stressed that evidence points to crowded indoor events as the prime environment for the spread of the coronavirus.

“In close proximity with each other”

“It is one thing to be talking about an indoor convention where people are in close proximity with each other for a substantial amount of time rather than walking outside in a protest,” the mayor said in defense of his decision to allow ongoing demonstrations against racial injustice to take place in the city, according to Politico.

“When people are marching and protesting, no one is making lunch/dinner, cleaning up behind them,” Turner added.

His decision might negatively impact Texas Republicans, but it will also add to the ongoing effects of the pandemic on the nation’s economy. A canceled convention means lost revenue for an array of service providers who would otherwise be working at the Houston venue.

Alternate plans have not been announced, but addresses from notable speakers including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are expected to be delivered virtually.

Of course, Turner and others who argue for continued shutdowns say the sacrifice is needed to get the virus under control. As President Donald Trump has repeatedly proclaimed, however, he remains committed to the adage that the “cure cannot be worse than the disease.”

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