• The convention is scheduled Aug. 24-27
  • Jacksonville currently is in the midst of a phase 2 reopening, which restricts bars, restaurants and entertainment venues to 50% capacity
  • Jacksonville and surrounding Duval County are seen as a swing area in a swing state

President Trump reportedly was ready Wednesday to announce the Republican National Convention would be moved to Jacksonville, Florida, to avoid the coronavirus restrictions North Carolina officials wanted to impose on the planned gathering in Charlotte. The announcement was expected as early as Thursday.

Trump demanded North Carolina ease social distancing and other restrictions to allow him to pack the Spectrum Center for his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination, but Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, resisted, asking instead that the GOP submit plans for a scaled down Aug. 24-27 convention – a request Trump rejected out of hand.

“I don’t want to be sitting in a place that’s 50 percent empty,” Trump told Cooper, adding, “We can’t do social distancing.”

Trump’s position set off a scramble for an alternative site.

Party officials went to Jacksonville Monday to determine whether its facilities were sufficient for the convention’s centerpiece events, the Washington Post reported, as the governors of Georgia and Texas pushed sites in their states. Sites in Orlando, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Savannah, Georgia, and Dallas reportedly also were under consideration.

"The president loves Jacksonville," a senior Republican official told CNN.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry began making his pitch last week.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also was courting the GOP.

Contractual obligations were to keep lower profile convention activities in Charlotte.

The most recent update on Jacksonville’s website, which was nearly a week old, indicated the city was only in a phase 2 reopening that would keep bars, restaurants and entertainment venues operating at 50% capacity with social distancing still mandatory. The city, population 903,889, has registered a 2.8% coronavirus infection rate among the 65,029 people tested. More than 1,800 infections have been confirmed, along with 55 deaths.

Savannah, population 145,862, has had 556 confirmed coronavirus cases and 29 deaths.

Charlotte, a city of 872,498 residents, has had 5,744 confirmed coronavirus cases and 111 deaths.

"This is Trump country here. This is the single best city in America, in which to host the Republican National Convention, and for several reasons. It's a battleground county in a battleground state, in a city where you have unified Republican governance," Duval County (Florida) Republican Chairman Dean Black told CNN.