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Trump Cancels Jacksonville RNC Event As Florida Sees Record High Daily Infections


President Trump has told Republicans to scrap plans for a celebration event in Jacksonville, Fla., as part of this year's GOP convention.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I looked at my team and I said, the timing for this event is not right - just not right with what's happened recently, the flare-up in Florida. To have a big convention, it's not the right time.

GREENE: It is not hard to understand this decision. The United States now has more than 4 million coronavirus cases, and Florida alone reported more than 10,000 new infections just yesterday, as well as a new record number of deaths. Let's turn to NPR's Greg Allen, who is in Miami. Hi, Greg.


GREENE: Talk to me about the convention decision. I mean, I suppose this has to be a disappointment for a lot of people in the party.

ALLEN: I think probably so, but really the most common feeling I've been hearing from officials here is relief. Jacksonville's mayor, Lenny Curry, you know, as the former head of the Republican Party here in Florida, he lobbied to host the event after President Trump said he wanted to move the convention out of Charlotte. But then that - the coronavirus cases really started to surge here in Florida, including in Jacksonville. And this week, Jacksonville's sheriff said, given the pandemic and the short notice, he wouldn't be able to provide adequate security for the convention unless something changed.

So after the president's announcement yesterday, we heard from the sheriff and the mayor. They released a statement saying that they appreciated him, quote, "considering our public health and safety concerns and making this incredibly difficult decision." You know, this avoids this unenviable scenario for Republican officials in Florida, having to say no to the president.

GREENE: Well, let me just ask you about the virus, I mean, these numbers of infections. Any sign of them coming under control in Florida?

ALLEN: Well, you know, they're still rising. The state, as you mentioned, had these new record yesterday with 173 deaths, more than 10,000 infections. At this rate, Florida will have more cases of the coronavirus than New York soon. But there is some talk here that officials and doctors say they think they see signs that surging cases may have peaked. A key indicator is the number of people coming into hospitals with flu and COVID-19 symptoms. Here's Governor DeSantis.


RON DESANTIS: When people are not coming to the E.D. in as big in numbers as they were two weeks ago, and actually it's less than half - the last few days have been less than half than what it was the first week of July - you know, that is a positive trend.

ALLEN: And when he says E.D. there, he means emergency departments.

GREENE: Right.

ALLEN: The rate of people testing positive for the virus is also coming down slowly, which, you know, is another good sign.

GREENE: Have hospitals in the state been able to keep up with the surge?

ALLEN: Yes, pretty much. Across the state, doctors and administrators have been saying repeatedly that they have adequate capacity. Some hospitals - especially smaller ones in rural areas - are seeing their intensive care units full. But Governor DeSantis says statewide, ICUs are only 85% full at this point.

Doctors point out that many of those in ICUs aren't COVID-19 patients, either. They're still doing elective procedures, you know, urgent and emergency surgeries and even some other things in some parts of the state. And hospitals have the ability to add beds as needed. Their biggest concern remains staffing. And the state says it's sending 1,000 nurses in to help out at hospitals that need it.

GREENE: And what about specifically Miami where you are, Greg? I mean, I know that's sort of been the epicenter in this.

ALLEN: Right. There are some signs here the surge is starting to flatten out as well. But, you know, we're still seeing well over 2,000 cases a day just in Miami-Dade County alone. The positivity rate here is near 20%. Officials say orders limiting gatherings and requiring face coverings, though, do seem to be working. Most of the spread now, they say, is happening among friends and family members, especially among people who live in multigenerational households. That led the mayor of Miami yesterday to suggest that young people who live with their parents and grandparents might want to consider wearing their masks at home.

GREENE: NPR's Greg Allen in Miami. Greg, thanks a lot.

ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.