A terrifying word circulated today at the Republican National Convention: norovirus.
A
dozen staffers in the California delegation who had arrived in
Cleveland early have fallen ill with the extremely contagious virus,
California GOP chairman Jim Brulte said.
The virus causes extreme
vomiting and diarrhea and has been known to spread explosively through
people in closed places, such as cruise ships, schools and nursing
homes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Brulte
said that, so far, no delegates or alternates have shown symptoms. He
said his delegation will continuing to attend the convention at Quicken
Loans Arena, where the Californians sit next to the Maryland delegation.
The
delegates from California are staying at the Kalahari Resort in
Sandusky, Ohio, nearly 95km away from Cleveland. Brulte said the
delegates and their guests were spending the day at the Cedar Point
amusement park in Sandusky or at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in
Canton, Ohio – or just relaxing at the Kalahari Resort.

Brulte said he believes one staffer brought the virus to Ohio
from California and then passed it to the staffer’s spouse. Soon, 12 of
the 36 staffers were sick.
The infected individuals first began
showing symptoms on Thursday, and Erie County health officials have
taken fecal samples for analysis, the Plain Dealer reported.
State
party officials alerted the delegation Monday morning to the norovirus
outbreak and briefed attendees again Tuesday. They also informed Ohio
health officials.
“We will continue to follow all county health
department directives to keep the illness from spreading. We wish our
staffers a speedy recovery,” Kaitlyn MacGregor, executive director of
the California GOP, said in an email to The Post.
They have instructed delegates to wash their hands
frequently, use sanitizers, and avoid shaking hands (something, as it
happens, that Donald Trump has long been loath to do). They also should
not share food, and have been told to stay off delegation buses to the
convention arena if they exhibit any symptoms of norovrius.
“We
worked with the hotel to add sanitizing stations in and around the area
where our delegation activities are. Where we pick up credentials, where
we have our delegation meetings in the morning, where we have our meal
functions in the morning or our parties at night,” Brulte said.
The
virus can be caught through contact from infected people or surfaces,
or through consuming contaminated food or water. Norovirus inflames the
stomach, the intestines, or both. Symptoms include stomach pain, nausea,
diarrhea and vomiting. Such symptoms can be especially dangerous for
young children and older adults.
Every year, about 19 to 21
million people become sick with norovirus; about 570 to 800 people die
annually from it, according to the CDC.
In Ohio, hand sanitizer dispensers were spotted Monday night at the resort where the California delegates are staying, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We worked with the hotel to add sanitizing stations in and around the area where our delegation activities,” Brulte said.
The
African-themed Kalahari Resort in Sandusky has 884 guest rooms,
according to a company website. The property features indoor and outdoor
water parks and an outdoor adventure park.
A spokeswoman for Kalahari Resorts said the company is cooperating “with all necessary officials.”
“In
preparation for the Republican California Delegates’ stay, Kalahari
Resorts and Conventions worked diligently with government officials to
ensure we exceeded all health and sanitation requirements and
protocols,” spokeswoman Samantha Flynn said in a statement. “This
includes passing extensive testing prior to, and continuing through, the
delegation’s visit.”
The California delegation includes 172
delegates and 168 alternates, plus a number of guests, with the entire
group numbering about 500, Brulte said.
Of the ailing staffers,
Brulte said, “Most of them are disappointed they can’t work, but they
understand that they’re out of circulation” until they are symptom-free
for at least 24 hours.
“We’re in touch with the California
delegation about this,” Audrey Scagnelli, spokeswoman for the RNC.
“They’re working with local health officials and are taking all the
necessary precautions to contain the virus. We’ll continue to monitor
the situation and ensure the delegation and staff have everything they
need.”
reports of the California delegation’s remote
accommodations in Sandusky surfaced earlier this year, when state GOP
leaders complained that they were being put up so far from the
convention site.
The complaints prompted convention organizers to
bristle at suggestions they had dropped the ball on accommodating the
GOP’s largest delegation, or that the California delegates were being
penalised for coming from a state that hasn’t historically been friendly
to Republicans.