Jacksonville, FL -- Today, the Republican Party announced that the RNC will occur in August in Jacksonville, just weeks after JEA is planning to resume utility shutoffs on July 7. The expiration of JEA’s shutoff moratorium, which was enacted to ensure all residents would have access to running water during the pandemic, means that thousands are again vulnerable to losing access to water. Jacksonville is the United States’ 5th worst offender when it comes to water shutoff rates among cities, according to data collected by Food & Water Watch. The Republican Party moved the convention from Charlotte, NC because the RNC failed to agree to Governor Cooper’s conditions to scale down the event to make it safer for both participants and Charlotte residents amid the pandemic.
COVID-19 cases are spiking in Florida as the state further reopens, and unemployment rates are at record highs, a challenge Florida’s unemployment infrastructure has struggled to handle. An influx of visitors for an event like the Republican National Convention carries new COVID-19 risks for the city.
In response, Food & Water Action’s Florida State Director, Michelle Allen, has issued the following statement:
“Shutting off households’ water is an inhumane practice. Months ago, many leaders stepped up across the country and joined a historic movement to halt water shutoffs in response to the current pandemic which relies so heavily on everyone washing their hands.
“Many of those moratoriums are starting to expire, but people still need to be able to wash their hands. Previously, Jacksonville faced some of the most notoriously high rates of water shutoffs. Now, with even higher unemployment rates, residents in cities like Jacksonville will be even less likely to be able to afford their water bills than they were before the pandemic. This will mean more water shutoffs if JEA does not renew the moratorium which expires in just a couple weeks on July 7.
Now, Republican leaders are making plans to hold the RNC in Jacksonville just one month after the JEA will be free to start shutting off water. With the subsequent influx of visitors and heightened COVID-19 risks, Senators like Marco Rubio and Rick Scott must step in and make sure nobody in Florida, or across the country, is facing this pandemic without access to running water. It’s time for the Senate to pass the national moratorium on water shutoffs without premature expiration dates that are included in the HEROES Act.”