The National Rifle Association officially cancelled its upcoming Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas on Tuesday afternoon, a little more than a week before the convention was slated to kick off. The organization made the official announcement on Twitter, calling it a “difficult decision” but one that was made after looking at the skyrocketing number of COVID-19 cases in the Houston area.
🚨Important Announcement: NRA Annual Meeting Cancellation
— NRA (@NRA) August 24, 2021
The average number of new COVID-19 cases in Harris County, Texas has exploded in the past few days, and the county is currently experiencing a Level 1 severe threat when it comes to transmission, according to the Houston Health Department. What does that mean exactly?
Level 1 signifies 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 .At this level, unvaccinated residents take action to minimize contact with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs like going to the grocery store for food and medicine. Unvaccinated individuals should continue to mask, physical distance, and avoid all gatherings.
As of today, there are more than 26,000 confirmed active COVID-19 cases in Houston itself (the number swells to more than 50,000 if all of Harris County is included), and the city is having a difficult time coping with the onslaught. One Houston hospital system closed three 24-hour emergency rooms on Monday, and other hospitals are seeing a shortage of beds for both COVID and non-COVID patients.
The unprecedented hospital bed shortage continues across Southeast Texas as the Houston area sets a record for the number of new daily COVID-19 positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Sunday, through the day, and Sunday through the night, we had a very rough sharp turn upwards so we are dealing once again with some record numbers,” said Executive V.P. of Houston Methodist, Roberta Schwartz.
According to data reported by the Texas Medical Center, on Sunday, 9,217 people tested positive for COVID in the Greater Houston area. TMC admitted 365 new COVID-19 patients. There are currently 2,650 COVID-19 positive patients in hospitals.
As of Monday afternoon, about 850 of those patients were at Houston Methodist hospitals.
In addition, nearly 200 patients at Houston Methodist are waiting for a hospital bed to become available.
“We have 193 patients in our emergency rooms who are waiting to get up to beds. About 45% of those are COVID-19 patients,” said Schwartz.
Daily deaths from COVID-19 are also increasing in the Houston area, though they haven’t (yet) climbed as high as they were in March of this year. As of Monday the 7-day average for COVID-related deaths in Harris County stood at 20, compared to 36 back in March.
Before the official announcement was made by the NRA, there had reports that many major firearms manufacturers had decided to pull out of the NRA Annual Meeting, though there was no official confirmation from the organization or manufacturers themselves. Still, if you visit the Annual Meeting website, you weren’t find a list of exhibitors or an exhibitor map, which has traditionally been available in years past. Links to exhibitors like Daniel Defense are now returning error messages, and one list of exhibitors that I was able to find online is missing several companies that have regularly had a presence at past Annual Meetings, including (but not limited to):
- Century Arms
- Crimson Trace
- FN Herstal
- Savage Arms
- Sig Sauer
- Springfield Armory
- Sturm, Ruger & Co.
- Winchester Ammunition
- Vista Outdoors
Similarly, I’ve also found links to a couple of seminars that were supposed to be hosted by John Correia of Active Self Protection that now come back with error messages. At this point, it’s impossible to know how many exhibitors and featured speakers had pulled out of the Annual Meeting before the NRA officially cancelled the convention, though the list of exhibitors that I was able to find online does still contain more than 500 companies, including Smith & Wesson, CZ-USA, and Glock. Still, the evidence suggests that we’re not just talking about a handful of folks who had already decided they’d be better off staying at home.
Late Monday, I emailed NRA’s Public Affairs office asking the following questions:
- is the NRA actively considering cancelling the Annual Meeting
- is the NRA going to release a list of companies that have withdrawn from the Annual Meeting before the meeting begins?
- is the NRA going to be requiring proof of vaccinations or the wearing of masks during the Annual Meeting?
- does the NRA have any concerns that there might be a disproportionate number of older, unvaccinated members traveling to Houston, and would they encourage them to stay home?
I never did receive a response, though I suppose the NRA’s tweet is response enough.
As sad as I am not to cover the Annual Meetings for Bearing Arms and catch up with many friends from around the country, I have to say I think this was the right decision for the organization to make. Houston’s not a great place to gather together with tens of thousands of our fellow Second Amendment supporters at the moment, but I hope that by the time the 2022 Annual Meeting rolls around next May the country’s in a much better place as far as COVID is concerned.