CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two attendees and two support staff at the Republican National Convention tested positive for COVID-19, Mecklenburg County officials announced Friday morning.

Those people were instructed to isolate immediately, and close contacts were also told to quarantine, officials said in a statement.

The disclosures come after county health officials raised concerned about a lack of social distancing and mask wearing during the business meeting of the RNC in Charlotte on Monday, despite strict coronavirus protocols that were supposed to be followed.

But the public may need to wait weeks for an “after-action” report detailing the true scope of infections linked to the RNC. For now, Mecklenburg Public Health Director Gibbie Harris has said the convention posed no infection risk to the greater Charlotte area.

“There have been no known incidences during the 5 days of RNC meetings in Charlotte where the public has potentially been exposed to an individual involved in the event (local or otherwise) who may have tested positive for COVID,” Harris said in a statement Tuesday.

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President Donald Trump speaks during the first day of the Republican National Convention Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (Travis Dove/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Charlotte’s portion of the RNC was a dramatically scaled-down convention for a spectacle once expected to draw more than 50,000 people to the Queen City.

Earlier this month, the RNC’s senior adviser for health and safety said the modified gathering in Charlotte still posted a “high risk” with more than 300 delegates traveling from all across the country.

The Charlotte region has been North Carolina’s epicenter for the novel coronavirus since March when the pandemic began.

There have been almost 25,000 confirmed cases and 290 related deaths among county residents as of Thursday afternoon.

When delegates arrived in Charlotte last week, they were tested upon registration and had regular symptom checks. Nearly 800 tests were administered among both attendees and support staff from the surrounding community, officials said.

Once in town, they were free to move about the city, eating at restaurants and attending events. That opened up the possibility that the virus could be picked up after their Charlotte-based test, and before the convention in person.

Over the weekend ahead of the Monday convention, delegates met for business meetings in a ballroom in the Westin Charlotte and mingled at a handful of events in the city, where mask wearing was not absolute.

Through a sophisticated contact tracing approach, delegates wore special badges that recorded who they came into contact with and for how long _ making it easier for health officials to quell possible outbreaks.

At the Monday convention in the Richardson Ballroom in the Charlotte Convention Center, many attendees did not wear masks.

When reporters in the room asked staff why public health requirements were not being enforced, staff said that they were enforcing them. Still, large numbers of delegates in the room were not wearing masks, gathering in a small groups and milling about the room.

The delegates were seated at individual 6-foot tables for most of the official business of the convention.

Midway through Monday’s events, Harris reached out to RNC organizers with concerns about adherence to public health guidelines. She said she was assured that RNC staff would enforce them.

Shortly after, delegates swiftly converged near the stage of the Richardson Ballroom as President Donald Trump concluded his remarks. Attendees, packed close to one another – with many still not wearing face coverings.

When asked why they allowed delegates to do this, an RNC staff member said that that was the purview of the U.S. Secret Service. The Secret Service did not reply to a request for comment.


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