The doctor is in: 100 days until Charlotte and the Republican convention


Today marks 100 days until Aug. 24, the first day of the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In a time when the nation has reeled from a pandemic that came over from China, the Republicans are moving forward with a full convention, although with many health and security safeguards.

The Republican National Committee has brought onboard a medical doctor to be part of its core planning team to ensure that the event follows all the CDC guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, which is expected to be ebbing in August.

“While COVID-19 was certainly not something anyone could have anticipated, our team has worked incredibly hard to adapt,” said Marcia Lee Kelly, the chairwoman for the convention.

“One detail you can expect to see throughout convention week is our consistency and devotion to a ‘five-star’ theme. Everywhere you walk, you’ll see it from the tips of your toes to the tops of the ceiling. We continue to work on week-of programming including a show-stopping lineup of speakers and never-been-done-before events. With planning underway, our team has continued to take meaningful steps to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring the health and safety of convention participants,” she said.

“We recognized that large-scale events would need to look different in light of COVID-19, and our team unveiled step one of many this month: Hiring an experienced health and medical preparedness expert to advise on the implementation of health and safety protocols.”

No, it’s not Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who advises the nation on COVID-19 and is a household name.

The doctor for the Republican National Convention is Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge, who has over 35 years of experience as a board-certified physician, as well as extensive experience in safety and risk management, medical preparedness, and planning. He is considered an expert in bioterrorism and chemical .

Runge (pronounced Run-ghee) spent seven years as the head of two government agencies, as the Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, which he reorganized into the Office of Health Affairs, and as the head of the National Highway Transportation and Safety Agency. At NHTSA, he instituted programs that led to the first absolute declines in U.S. motor vehicle deaths in nearly a decade and the lowest highway fatality rate in history. His emphasis on safety belt use using the innovative “Click It or Ticket” program led to national belt use over 80%, saving over 3,000 lives a year.

Until 2001 he practiced emergency medicine and taught in North Carolina’s busiest emergency department and trauma center, while performing research in injury prevention, trauma care, and emergency service delivery.

Some 2,550 total GOP delegates are expected to attend the convention from all over the nation.

Meanwhile, this week the Democratic Party Rules Committee approved a change that allows delegates to take part even from a distance, if they don’t want to attend in person. The Democrats have already delayed their Milwaukee, Wisconsin convention that was originally set for July 13-16. They’ll now gather the week before the Republican convention — Aug. 17-20 — if they do gather at all.