Houston leaders ask Texas Republicans to cancel convention

Houston city leaders on Monday asked the Texas Republican Party to cancel its in-person convention set for next week, calling it a potential "super spreader" event.

Mayor Sylvester Turner says if it does go on, he will deploy health inspectors to the event and he threatened to shut it down if certain guidelines to mitigate the spread of the virus are not followed.

Turner says not a single health expert he's talked to thinks holding an in-person convention in the middle of a pandemic is a good idea.

“These are serious times and this pandemic is very serious,” Turner said Monday.

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The city of Houston, alone, reported 963 new cases Monday and coronavirus hospitalizations in the Houston-area are nearly 2,700. Statewide more than 5,300 new cases were added and hospitalizations were nearly 8,700.

Gov. Greg Abbott would not say whether he felt the in-person event should be canceled when asked during an interview on FOX4 Monday evening.

“This convention or any action that anyone takes, we're at a time with an outbreak of the coronavirus where public safety needs to be a paramount concern and make sure that whoever does anything and wherever they do, they need to do so in ways that reduces the spread of the coronavirus,” Abbott said.

Some 6,000 people are expected to attend the convention. The city's top medical doctor is worried about out-of-town attendees who will descend on Houston then go back to their own cities.

“Another large event like that, which is known as a super spreader event, is probably not the most responsible thing to do,” said Dr. David Persse, Houston Health Authority.

If the in-person convention moves forward, Turner says attendees must adhere to a list of health requirements. They include wearing a face covering at all times, practice social distancing and have daily temperature checks.

Dallas County Republican Chair Rodney Anderson says he has no problems following the health safety protocols.

“I understand the health concerns that he has, but I also know that the SREC (State Republican Executive Committee) members who voted. These folks are very well meaning and they understand the health risks,” Anderson said.

RELATED: Interactive map of Texas COVID-19 cases