An Ironclad Contract May Force Charlotte to Hold RNC Despite Coronavirus

By Kimberly Lawson

March 12, 2020

Health officials announced the first two presumptive positive cases of the virus in Mecklenburg County on Thursday.

Despite fears that 50,000 visitors could exponentially increase the spread of coronavirus, it appears the Republican National Convention’s ironclad contract may leave Charlotte in a bind.

“I think the attorney told them very clearly that there was no ‘out’ for the city if they wanted to renege on this intention to host the conference,” Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham told WFAE on Wednesday. “Whether it was because they didn’t want to do it anymore, or for any other reason. And to my knowledge, that still stands.”

But there appear to be recourse for the Queen City at the federal, state, and county government levels.

  • If the federal government reneges on a $50 million security grant, Charlotte could void the deal.
  • North Carolina declared a state of emergency Tuesday, giving Gov. Roy Cooper the ability to “regulate and control the flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and the congregation of persons.” Cooper, then, could cancel the convention if he deemed it necessary.
  • Mecklenburg County could declare a public health emergency.

“Obviously it would depend on the epidemiology of what’s happened in this community at the time,” Mecklenburg Health Director Gibbie Harris told WFAE. But “that does give us some flexibility in making those kinds of decisions.”

Officials announced the first two presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in Mecklenburg County on Thursday. As of mid-day, North Carolina’s official count is 14.

Gov. Cooper announced at a press conference Wednesday that the state has only 250 complete test kits. More cases are expected to be reported.

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