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Ron DeSantis didn't guarantee there wouldn't be a mask requirement for the 2020 Republican National Convention in Jacksonville. Image via News4Jax.

2020/2022

Ron DeSantis doesn’t rule out masks for Jacksonville GOP convention

President Donald Trump pulled the cord on Charlotte because of masks and social distancing.

As Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry faces scrutiny for not issuing a mask mandate, Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t guaranteeing the Republican National Convention will also go maskless.

The Republican National Committee moved its nominating convention for President Donald Trump from the originally-planned host city Charlotte, North Carolina, in part because the state wouldn’t promise a mask-less convention without social distancing. With the convention now in Jacksonville, Curry has made clear the city won’t require masks in the meantime.

But when asked about requiring masks at the convention, DeSantis didn’t make the same guarantee.

“We always said, look, it’s a work in progress, we’re going to try to get to yes, but it was never anything where — obviously, we’re in a dynamic situation, so they know that,” DeSantis told reporters in Pensacola Sunday.

The Governor has also told Floridians to avoid the indoors, crowded spaces, and close contact with other individuals, which also flies in the face of a packed convention hall.

Like most of the state, Jacksonville and Northeast Florida have seen a rising number of COVID-19 diagnoses in recent days with positivity rates crossing double digits. The city counted 740 new cases in health official’s latest report Sunday morning, a fourth consecutive day of increasing new cases.

Although cases are on the rise, DeSantis noted it could be a different picture in August with the public’s focus returning to combating the virus’ spread.

“But I think we’ll be fine by that time,” he said. “It’s a couple of months away, and we look forward to seeing that.”

Over the course of the state’s monthlong stay-at-home order that began early April, cases dropped from more than 1,300 in one day to 789 on the final day of the original lockdown order. Positivity rates also trended down during that period and weeks into May.

Nearly 200 physicians wrote a letter to Curry and the city council demanding a mask requirement and social distancing during the convention.

And the Sunshine State’s former Governor (and current Sen.) Rick Scott demanded the convention take measures to protect public health.

“You’re going to have to,” Scott said last week. “We have to wear masks.”

Written By

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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