JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Hundreds of doctors are trying to pressure Jacksonville’s mayor and city council to postpone or scale back the Republican National Convention because of COVID-19.
The letter now includes pages and pages of names of Florida doctors who are trying to get the city to acknowledge the risks associated with hosting a large event like the RNC.
First Coast News asked the City of Jacksonville tough questions Monday about whether it believes the doctors are wrong about the event being dangerous.
“We did not receive that letter from the physicians until around 4 p.m. (Sunday)," Jacksonville Director of Public Affairs Nikki Kimbleton said. "Just as we do with anyone who writes in to Mayor Curry, we will respond to the sender and will do that in a timely manner."
The letter to Mayor Lenny Curry and the city council points out more than 40,000 people are expected to attend the RNC from all over the country.
"Allowing this number of people to descend on Jacksonville is unequivocally provocative of disease, predictably harmful, and medically disrespectful to the citizens of this city, much less the rest of the country," the letter states.
The doctors also warn there will be an increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, long-term health problems and deaths as a result of the convention.
Orange park oncologist Linda Sylvester added her name to the letter because she wants to see the city follow CDC guidelines.
“I really think the RNC should postpone to when we have a vaccine, but that’s not going to be possible. So, I think they need to reinvent what they’ll do and how to do a zoom (or smaller) convention," Dr. Sylvester explained.
Jacksonville Gynecologist Tiffany Wells hopes the letter will force the City of Jacksonville to come out with a plan on how it will keep visitors and residents safe -- especially after seeing a recent increase of COVID-19 cases locally.
“I think at this point, we have to plan for the worst," Dr. Wells said. "And if it's not at the worst at that point, then great -- we had the plan in place we didn't have to use."
Jacksonville announced a mandatory mask ordinance Monday, which was one of the things the doctors called for in their letter.