“I’m not going to go. And I’m not going to go because of the virus situation,” Grassley said Monday on a conference call with reporters, according to the Des Moines Register. A Grassley spokesman confirmed that the senator will not attend the convention.
Grassley, 86, is the second-oldest member of the Senate. His announcement comes as Florida has experienced a surge in coronavirus cases, with more than 200,000 confirmed infections since late February. In Duval County, which includes Jacksonville, three new testing sites are opening this week, along with a mobile testing site, according to local TV station Action News Jax.
Grassley told reporters Monday that he has attended every Republican National Convention since 1980, and that while he supports GOP officials holding the event, they should strive to “make it as safe as possible, so that would mean with face masks and with social distancing,” the Des Moines Register reported.
The host committee for the GOP convention sent a memo to reporters later Monday noting that coronavirus testing will be conducted at the event site.
“Everyone attending the convention within the perimeter will be tested and temperature checked each day,” Erin Isaac, communications director for the host committee, said in the memo.
Isaac did not detail how the testing would be done. “We’ll provide more information as it is available,” she said.
The decision to move the event from Charlotte to Jacksonville came after Trump tweeted on Memorial Day that he wanted the convention in a city that would allow him to speak in a filled arena. The RNC also indicated that it did not want to require masks for Trump’s speech.
Annie Linskey and Michael Scherer contributed to this report.