June 30, 2020
- TMA sent the attached letter to the Republican Party of Texas this morning. We are hopeful the party will follow our recommendation.
- TMA made $5,000 contributions to both the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Republican Party for their respective state conventions, in exchange for advertising.
- TMA began pursuing both sponsorships in February, before the pandemic or any stay-home/social distancing measures hit Texas.
- TMA is an advocacy organization of physicians, whose issues range from public health to insurance reform to Medicaid and many, many more. Use of advertising in both political parties (and PAC support to candidates of both parties) aims to encourage lawmakers to pass good laws for the benefit of Texas patients and health care.
- When TMA was informed of the delayed July date for the state Republican convention, our staff reassured RPT staff that TMA would advertise in a virtual gathering, but asked that if an in-person meeting would occur to please utilize CDC, state and local guidelines for social distancing and wearing masks.
- TMA has repeatedly urged - and will continue to urge - all Texans to stay home as much as possible. If you must go out, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently.
James Dickey, State Chairman
Alma Jackson, State Vice-Chairman
Kyle Whatley, Executive Director
Republican Party of Texas
P.O. Box 2206
Austin, TX 78768
Dear Mr. Dickey, Ms. Jackson, and Mr. Whatley:
On behalf of the more than 53,000 physician and medical student members of the Texas Medical Association, I am writing to recommend that Republican Party of Texas (RPT) reconsider its decision to conduct your state convention as an in-person function in Houston on July 16-18. This is just not the time to bring thousands of the party faithful from around the state to an indoor meeting in a county that, as I write, reports more than 18,000 active COVID-19 cases.
While much of our state has so far been spared the brunt of the coronavirus attack, our metropolitan areas in general – and Houston in particular – are now among the national epicenters of current COVID-19 outbreaks. The daily chart of active cases in Harris County has been nearly a straight line upward for the past two weeks. As an emergency physician in Houston treating patients with COVID-19, I speak from firsthand experience: It would be best for the health of your conventiongoers and the residents of Houston for the RPT not to hold its biennial convention there as planned.
I personally understand quite well the need for an organization such as the RPT to conduct regular meetings in-person. It goes beyond the business that needs to be conducted and the celebrations that need to occur. The strength of all grassroots organizations, including the Texas Medical Association, lies in the personal relationships of our members, and those relationships need consistent opportunities to grow and develop.
The loss of those opportunities this summer, however, are small sacrifices compared to the health and safety of our organization’s members. Like the RPT, a sizeable fraction of the TMA annual convention consists of longtime activists and leaders – men and women who are now at that age where they are particularly susceptible to the worst that a case of COVID-19 can deliver. That is among the reasons TMA canceled our in-person convention in May.
In conclusion, for the safety of your delegates, officers, staff, vendors, the convention workers, and the people of Houston, we urge the RPT to reconsider holding its 2020 state convention as an in-person event in Houston this summer.
Diana L. Fite, MD