By Kay Jones and Nicole Williams, CNN
The National Rifle Association (NRA) announced Tuesday it has canceled its 2021 annual meeting in Houston, citing the worsening Covid-19 situation there.
The NRA reached the “difficult decision” to call off the event after analysis of the “relevant data regarding COVID-19 in Harris County, Texas,” the association said in a statement. It said it consulted with medical professionals, local officials and many members before the final decision was made.
“The NRA Annual Meeting welcomes tens of thousands of people, and involves many events, meetings, and social gatherings,” the statement said. “We are mindful that NRA Annual Meeting patrons will return home to family, friends and co-workers from all over the country, so any impacts from the virus could have broader implications.”
The cancellation comes as Texas is grappling with rising Covid-19 cases and shrinking ICU vacancies.
Harris County is currently at a Level 1 Covid-19 threat level according to Harris County Public Health and the Houston Health Department. A Level 1 threat is reached when there is a “severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening and public health capacity is strained or exceeded,” the agencies said.
Nearly 93% of ICU beds in Texas are in use, according to data from the US Health and Human Services Department, just over half of which are occupied by Covid-19 patients.
The influx of cases in the Houston area prompted the closure of three Houston area emergency rooms Monday, the Memorial Hermann Health System said in a Facebook post. Memorial Hermann noted “the continued COVID-19 surge and its ongoing impact on our System’s operation,” when announcing the closure.
The NRA’s 2021 Annual Meeting & Exhibits was scheduled to take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston from September 3-5, according to the event website.
“The NRA looks forward to a Celebration of Freedom in Louisville in May 2022,” the association said in its statement. “In the meantime, we will support many other NRA local events and smaller gatherings — in a manner that is protective of our members and celebrates our Second Amendment freedom.”
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CNN’s Jennifer Henderson contributed to this report.
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