Texas is being considered to host the Republican National Convention, Vice President Mike Pence said Monday in an interview with Fox News. Pence’s comment comes after President Donald Trump threatened in a series of tweets Monday morning to pull the convention from North Carolina if the state refuses to guarantee it will be open come August.
“These national conventions literally take many months to organize and prepare,” Pence said. “The president is absolutely intent on ensuring, as we see our nation continue to make steady progress on putting the coronavirus epidemic in the past, that come this August, we’ll be able to come together in a safe and responsible venue.”
Trump said that if North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper can’t guarantee that the Republican Party would be allowed to “fully occupy” the convention venue in Charlotte Aug. 24-27, the party will seek other states to host.
In the interview, Pence named Texas, Florida and Georgia as states that have made “tremendous progress” in reopening. Pence called on Cooper to provide a “swift response.”
“Having a sense now is absolutely essential because of the immense preparations that are involved,” Pence said. “If need be, [we’ll move] the national convention to a state that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there.”
Houston mayor says city will enforce occupancy rules
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Sunday the city now plans to enforce the state’s occupancy rules that limit how many people can be in restaurants and bars to protect against the spread of COVID-19, after receiving reports of people flooding establishments over Memorial Day weekend.
Turner had previously said the city would ask residents and business owners to self-enforce Gov. Greg Abbott’s rules that allow bars and restaurants to operate at 25% and 50% occupancy, respectively. On the whole, people are respecting that rule – but the city started to receive an avalanche about people crowding into spaces, not social distancing nor wearing masks.
“We have done so well in this city,” Turner addressed reporters while wearing a light blue surgical mask. “This is not the time...for some people to engage in this blatant behavior that will have an adverse affect on everybody else, not just themselves, but everybody else.”
Fire Chief Samuel Peña tweeted that the department had received about 300 complaints since Friday and that “admittance beyond approved capacity will cause events to be stopped” until conditions are corrected.
Turner also announced 115 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death in the city Sunday, bringing Houston’s case total to 6,640 and the number of deaths to 126. This was the first weekend Texas bars were allowed to open at all since Abbott issued a blanket shelter in place order nearly two months ago. The state started to gradually open in phases May 1. Although Abbott has chastised some cities for what he considered aggressive enforcement, an investigation by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune found enforcement was highly sporadic across the state and, in many cases, cities chose to issue citations sparingly.
Videos and news reports from around the country, in states where reopening has begun, show people flooding nightclubs, restaurants and beaches. Turner referenced a pool party in Arkansas that was the source of a larger COVID-19 cluster in that state. He emphasized the city would not be heavy handed – “nobody’s going to be jailed” – but said the city had no choice but to issue citations or, in extreme cases, shut businesses down if they do not comply.
“Your rights stop where my rights begin,” he said, adding later, “Work with us, please.”
Texas reports 55,348 cases and 1,519 deaths
Texas reported 839 more cases of the new coronavirus Sunday, an increase of about 2% over the previous day, bringing the total number of known cases to 55,348. No new counties reported their first cases Sunday; over 85% of the state’s 254 counties have reported at least one case.
DSHS said a technical problem prevented testing data from being updated on Sunday. Because of this, antibody testing information, which is typically reported a day behind, is most recent as of Friday. See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents.
Harris County has reported the most cases, 10,770, followed by Dallas County, which has reported 8,649 cases.
The state has reported 13 additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 1,519 – an increase of about 1% from Saturday. Harris County reported two additional deaths, bringing its total to 219 deaths, more than any other county.
As of Sunday, 1,572 patients are known to be hospitalized in Texas. That’s a decrease of 116 patients from Saturday.