On Thursday evening, President Donald Trump said he will cancel the in-person events of the Republican National Convention which were scheduled to be held in Jacksonville, Florida due to coronavirus concerns.

“I looked at my team and I said the timing for this event is not right. It’s just not right,” Trump said at the White House coronavirus news briefing. “To have a big convention, it’s not the right time.”

“There’s nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe,” he added.

Trump said he will organize the convention in another form, though he did not provide details yet.

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“We’ll announce what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, whether it’s something that’s done online,” Trump said.

Change comes abruptly after Trump has brushed off the severity of the pandemic for months. At the press conference, Trump said he communicated his decision to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) and said he wanted to put his health concerns first.

Florida has seen a spike of 10,249 cases on Thursday, with a total of 389,868 confirmed cases across the state. Florida has been one of the worst-hit states in recent weeks.

GOP source familiar with the matter said the Trump campaign team suggested the president an option to still move forward with the event or cancel it. The last option would be a tactical move to show his leadership and health concern for the nation. Trump’s announcement also comes after Biden has been leading by wide margins  in polls.

“I could see the media saying, ‘Oh, this is very unsafe,'” Trump said. “I don’t want to be in that position.”

Initially, convention organizers planned to limit attendees to 2,500 delegates on the first three convention events, with 7,000 attendees for the final night of Trump’s pre-election speech.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams released a statement Thursday night, thanking the President.

“We appreciate President Donald Trump considering our public health and safety concerns in making this incredibly difficult decision,” the statement reads.

Other officials also expressed positive reactions towards Trump’s announcement.

“I’m glad Donald Trump took his head out of the sand long enough to realize what a predictable, preventable disaster he was about to inflict on the city of Jacksonville,” Terrie Rizzo, the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, said in a statement. “His ego-driven political stunt has wasted precious time and resources during a pandemic.”

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