Indeed, by Thursday the president had come to terms with pulling the plug, not betraying anger or irritation at being forced to retreat, according to a person familiar with his dealings on the matter…

But behind the scenes, senior Republicans had been considering the possibility of forgoing an in-person event for the months. Even before deciding to move the convention from Charlotte to Jacksonville last month, party officials considered the prospect of scrapping it. As coronavirus cases spiked around the country, they considered an array of options for how to stage Trump’s coronation safely, even as the president and the party plowed ahead with fundraising and planning for Jacksonville…

The tipping point, aides said, was an acknowledgment of the overwhelming health risks. Florida has surpassed 10,000 new coronavirus cases nearly every day for at least two weeks. On Thursday, the state Department of Health reported a record 173 new deaths. The state’s positivity rate, which hasn’t dipped below 10 percent for a month and hit more than 12 percent Thursday.

Hoping to keep the news from leaking and knowing Trump wanted to break the news himself, aides kept a tight circle of people involved in the deliberations. Organizers on the ground in Florida said they first heard of the decision when Trump went on TV Thursday. Donors were also caught off guard.