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Fauci says ‘we need to reserve judgment’ on whether to hold national political conventions

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a briefing on coronavirus in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon via CNN)

(CNN) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Wednesday recommended reserving judgment for now on whether or not to hold the Democratic and Republican conventions that are scheduled to take place in August during the coronavirus pandemic.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases comments come after President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to pull the 2020 Republican National Convention out of Charlotte, North Carolina, if the Democratic governor couldn’t assure they will be allowed “full attendance” in the arena. Democrats, who moved their planned event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from July to August, have acknowledged their event may need to be virtual while Republicans have said they plan to move ahead with an in-person event.

“What I think we need to do, Jim, is reserve judgment right now to see what the situation would be,” Fauci told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “Newsroom” when asked if it was safe to have packed arenas without restrictions in place. “I mean, if we have a really significant diminution in the number of new cases and hospitalizations and we’re at a level where it is really very low, then, again, according to the guidelines, you may be able to go to whatever phase you’re in and have some sort of a capability of gathering.”

He continued, “But I think we need to reserve judgment right now because we’re still a few months from there. Hopefully, we will see that diminution. If we don’t, then as I said before, I would have significant reservations about that.”

In a series of tweets on Monday, Trump lambasted North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and contended that the Democrat is “unable to guarantee” that the arena can be filled to capacity. The President also demanded Republicans “immediately be given” an answer from Cooper on the convention’s future in the city.

Cooper told reporters Tuesday he was not surprised by the President’s tweet and said he and his health officials are still waiting for health plans from Republican officials.

“It is OK for political conventions to be political but pandemic response cannot be,” he said. “Already we have been in talks with the RNC about the kind of convention that they would need to run and the kind of options that we need on the table. … We want to see from the RNC what their plans are, and we have asked them to submit those plans to our public health officials.”

As discussions continued about the Republican convention’s future in North Carolina, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both Republicans, have offered to host the event to take place in their states.

Kemp tweeted Tuesday, “With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,” adding, “We hope you will consider the Peach State @realdonaldtrump!”

DeSantis said during a news conference Tuesday, “The door is open.”

“We want to have the conversation whether it’s RNC or DNC because I think it would be good for the people of Florida,” he said. “Florida wants to work with you if you’re a business, if you’re a sports team, if you want to have some of these events, we want to work with you to get to yes.”

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