Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday that he will not attend next month's Republican National Convention due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic's continued sweep across the United States.
Grassley's move makes him the first congressional Republican to announce that he will skip this year's convention, which was moved to Jacksonville, Fla., from Charlotte after North Carolina state and local officials declined to agree to Trump's demands for a crowded large-scale event amid the pandemic.
"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.