CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Republican National Convention is only 121 days away, and with 50,000 expected visitors including delegates, special guests, media and President Donald Trump, there are questions if it will be safe to hold the RNC in Charlotte this summer amid an uncertain COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
In an exclusive interview Friday with WCNC Charlotte, Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease expert and advisor to President Trump, addressed the convention.
"I don't think there will be zero coronavirus around this summer," Fauci said. "I have cautious optimism."
With 15,000 credential members of the media in attendance, second only in size to the 2016 Rio Olympics, the RNC will be the biggest event in the United States since before the Super Bowl in February.
"What it's going to look like is going to depend on the ability of Charlotte to respond. It is highly likely given the strong mitigation that we have put out throughout the county, and the currently recommended guidelines for everyone, including Charlotte...If the number of cases, the number of diagnoses go down consistently over 14 days, then we can take the next step into phase one."
Phase one refers to the federal guidelines that have been set out, including vulnerable individuals sheltering in place, and people in public maximizing social distancing, and avoiding groups of 10. Mecklenburg County recently extended the stay-at-home order into May.
Phase two means that phase one is going well, and now non-essential travel can resume, as well as business allowing for more interactions with the public.
Phase three states vulnerable individuals can resume public interactions, but should practice physical distancing, and exposure to social settings. In phase three, gyms and bars can freely open.
"If you succeed in phase one, then phase two, then phase three, if you are successful in doing that by the time you get to the summer, I don't think there's going to be zero coronavirus around — think that too much to ask for — but the level will be so well contained you will be able to get to some sort of normality," Fauci said.
One of the hallmarks of a political convention is the floor — packed with people shouting, dealing, and finding the correct area to grab a seat to history.
However, 2020 will not be a normal year for Charlotte, or anywhere else on the globe. The coronavirus has affected every nation including the United States with more than 50,000 deaths nationwide.
Dr. Fauci believes it's up to individuals being vigilant and modeling the right behaviors that will lead to a successful RNC in 2020.
"I have cautious optimism. It's how we deal with it, and how we contain will make the difference," Dr. Fauci said.