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Republican officials announced earlier this month that part of the convention, namely Trump's speech to accept the GOP nomination, would subsequently be moved to Jacksonville, which did not previously require the same kinds of safety measures as Charlotte.

However the city of Jacksonville said Monday it is now requiring face masks at all public and indoor locations, potentially upending Trump's plan to show off a packed event with mask-less revelers.

The Jacksonville ordinance requiring masks comes after a major spike in coronavirus cases in Florida.

The seven-day positivity average in Florida is 15.6%, according to data from John's Hopkins University, far higher than the 5% positivity rate that public health experts say is safe to allow a phased reopening.

The Republican National Committee responded to the new requirement this week, saying it would follow all "local health regulations in place at the time" of the event, but noted that "the event is still two months away."

The convention is currently scheduled to take place from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27.

"...We are planning to offer health precautions including but not limited to temperature checks, available P.P.E., aggressive sanitizing protocols, and available Covid-19 testing," RNC officials told the New York Times this week.

Trump has not yet commented publicly on the change in safety measures.

As cases increase, health experts say masks are a great way to slow the spread of the virus.

However Trump has so far refused to wear one himself. And some Republicans have turned it into a partisan issue, with Republican voters now more likely to say they won't wear a mask either.

A Gallup poll from May 13 found 46% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they never wear masks, while 49% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they always wear masks.

Few rally-goers at Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, earlier this month wore masks. At least eight staffers at that event later tested positive for coronavirus, forcing the campaign to require all who attended the rally to get tested as well.

Holding Trump's acceptance speech in Jacksonville could pose other risks to Trump's reelection bid.

Multiple polls have found that Jacksonville residents do not want Trump to hold the event in their city.

According to a University of North Florida poll released on June 24, 58% of voters in Jacksonville don't want the rally there, and 71% say they fear the event could cause the virus to spread.

And angering Jacksonville residents could spell further trouble for Trump, who wants to keep Florida in his Electoral College column. Jacksonville is located in the key swing county of Duval, which Trump won narrowly in 2016.

The University of North Florida poll from June 24 found presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading Trump in the county, 48% to 41%.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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Tags: 2020 election coronavirus covid 19 donald trump florida rnc

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Florida Republican Who Voted Against Mask Mandate Now In Critical Condition After Contracting COVID-19

A Florida Republican who voted against implementing a countywide mask mandate is now hospitalized in the “most critical of conditions” after testing positive for coronavirus, the man’s daughter said.

Paul Waldron, who serves as commissioner for St. Johns County south of Jacksonville, had last week voted against an order that would have required all residents to wear masks in public. As Newsweek reported, Waldron said that while he was not personally opposed to the requirement, he wanted county commissioners to clarify what masks would be required and whether the county could provide supplies for those entering government buildings without a mask.

Still, the decision led to some pushback and the story has gained national interest since Waldron fell ill after contracting coronavirus. In a Facebook post, Waldron’s daughter shared that he was comfortable in the hospital and that staff was working hard to keep him stable, but said his condition was serious. As First Coast News reported, Waldron’s daughter wrote that due to “complications from the virus, he went into septic shock and many organs are struggling.”

Waldron’s sudden turn in health, and his decision not to move forward with a mandate that residents wear masks, comes against a backdrop of sharply rising cases in the state of Florida. Elected officials there have come under fire for going against the recommendation of public health experts by reopening the state economy earlier than many other states, and for looser restrictions. Governor Ron DeSantis had come under fire for refusing to close the state’s beaches, even as some top health officials reportedly pleaded for him to close them.

Much of the controversy centers on St. Johns County, where Waldrons serves as county commissioner. As the Washington Post reported, Deanna A. Oleske, the associate medical examiner for the county, pleaded with DeSantis to issue an order for beaches in the county to close, which he did not do.

She also reportedly warned that the county was not properly prepared for the outbreak.

“We are facing NUMEROUS issues that are inhibiting us to appropriately staff this office in an expeditious manner BEFORE facing a pandemic of unknown proportions,” she wrote.

Other elected officials have come under fire for holding off on mandating that residents wear masks, even though public health experts said that masks have been proven to be one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the virus. One study found that cases of coronavirus would plummet if 80 percent of Americans committed to wearing masks while in public.

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