HOUSTON — Houston is a national hotspot in the coronavirus pandemic and in 15 days is scheduled to be the site of the Texas GOP state convention.
"I think that would be disastrous, increasing the numbers even more," said Dr. Diana Fite, with the Texas Medical Association.
The state party brands the convention as the largest political gathering in the free world. More than 6,000 people will meet at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Those plans prompted the Texas Medical Association to send a letter to GOP leaders asking them to cancel the in-person event.
"This is definitely not about politics," Fite said. "We think this is just the wrong time, especially in Houston where we're having an increase in the number of patients."
Rep. Sarah Davis agrees with the TMA's recommendation and won't attend the event if it moves forward.
"The worst-case scenario is to have 6,000 people descend into the city right now," Davis said. "I don't think it's a good idea especially when we know we can do it virtually."
Other lawmakers said there's no reason not to meet in person. And even as Gov. Greg Abbott encourages wearing masks, right now masks remain optional to attend the convention. That's fueling more concern.
"I strongly believe it should not take place," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
Turner is choosing not to take action to shut it down himself.
"If I do it (shut it down) people can easily say here's this quote-unquote Democratic mayor shutting down a Republican convention," Turner said. "I do not want to politicize it."
Public pressure led GOD state officials to meet Tuesday.
"It's a backup plan," said Texas GOP Chairperson James Dickey.
Dickey said they are prepared to go virtual and/or change the location of the convention if necessary.
"At the end of the day, if Republicans choose to proceed with holding this convention, they will be held responsible for the consequences of this convention," Davis said.
State party leaders are expected to make an announcement on the future of the convention on Thursday evening.
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