The National Rifle Association announced on Tuesday that it was canceling its annual meeting in Houston because of concerns over the rising number of Covid cases in the area, fueled by the Delta variant.
“The N.R.A.’s top priority is ensuring the health and well-being of our members, staff, sponsors and supporters,” the organization said in a statement. “We are mindful that N.R.A. 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.”
It is the second year in a row that the meeting has been canceled because of the pandemic.
The N.R.A. did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.
The meeting, which was scheduled for Sept. 3 to 5 and usually hosts thousands of people, was canceled after N.R.A. leaders consulted with medical professionals, local officials and sponsors, the group said.
Like most counties in Texas, Harris County, home to Houston, has had its hospitals overwhelmed as infections reach levels not seen since January. The state’s seven-day average death rate was 139 on Monday, compared with 34 on June 1, and hospitalizations in Harris County have rapidly climbed since July. Gov. Greg Abbott, who recently tested positive for the coronavirus, has prohibited mask and vaccination mandates.
The N.R.A. said it understood that its exhibitors and sponsors would be affected by the cancellation, but it planned to “support many other N.R.A. local events and smaller gatherings — in a manner that is protective of our members and celebrates our Second Amendment freedom.”
Cancellations of large meetings and conventions, such as the New York International Auto Show, which had been scheduled for late August, have recently ramped up across the country as the Delta variant continues to spread, largely among unvaccinated people.