Roundup: U.S. Democratic National Convention delayed until August due to COVID-19 outbreak

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-03 02:52:23|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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WASHINGTON, April 2 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Democratic National Convention to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at which the Democratic Party's presidential nominee will emerge, has been delayed until August due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event's organizers said Thursday.

"After a great deal of scenario planning and giving thought to how it is this event can have the greatest impact in the electoral process and the greatest impact in terms of what we can bring to Milwaukee, we felt the best decision, not knowing all the answers, was to delay this," Democratic National Convention CEO Joe Solmonese was cited by the Journal Sentinel as saying.

Solmonese said it was determined that "the week of August 17 was the best week to move it to," without elaborating on how many days the gathering will last, according to the Journal Sentinel.

"More than anything we continue to monitor the public health landscape," Solmonese said.

The Democratic National Convention was originally scheduled for July 13 to 16. The purpose of the event is to choose a Democratic presidential nominee, now a choice between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, to take on President Donald Trump in the general election later this year.

"In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention," Solmonese later confirmed the postponement in a statement.

"During this critical time, when the scope and scale of the pandemic and its impact remain unknown, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of health care professionals and emergency responders," he added.

The formal announcement of the delay came after Democratic front-runner Biden's appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show" on Wednesday, during which he called for pushing back the convention to August.

"I doubt whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July, early July," Biden told host Jimmy Fallon when asked how the coronavirus outbreak would impact the nominating process. "I think it's going to have to move into August."

This was the second time Biden, 77, had voiced concerns over a possible rescheduling of the convention. He said in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday that "it's hard to envision" the convention taking place as planned, adding that "the fact is it may have to be different."

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) said it has confirmed that Fiserv Forum, the arena where the convention will be held, is available that week, and that hotels in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois are able to accommodate the expected 50,000 visitors coming for the event.

"The convention planning team will now use the coming weeks to further explore all options to ensure nominating the next president of the United States is done without unnecessary risk to public health," the DNC said in a statement. "These options include everything from adjusting the convention's format to crowd size and schedule."

Solmonese anticipated a shrink in the number of attendees at the forthcoming convention after the rescheduling because of either the participants' health concerns or their other plans for mid-August. "It could potentially be smaller," he said.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called the decision to postpone the convention "absolutely the right move" by the organizers and the DNC, the Journal Sentinel reported.

"It underscores the commitment that they have made to Milwaukee," he said. "It underscores the commitment they have made to Wisconsin and it is my hope that by having it in August it will be a much needed shot in the arm for our restaurants, hotels and other businesses."

As of Wednesday, positive tests for COVID-19 in Wisconsin amounted to 1,550, with total deaths reaching 24, according to the state's Department of Health Services.

Now with the change in the timeline, the convention will come just one week before the Republican Party holds theirs between Aug. 24 and 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Trump will be nominated as the Republican presidential candidate seeking re-election.

Trump has said the plan for the Republican National Convention will not be disrupted by the coronavirus. The event is also expected to draw a crowd of as many as 50,000.

"We are definitely planning -- it's toward the end of August," the president told Sean Hannity of Fox News last Thursday. "Somebody was asking today, 'Will you cancel your convention?' I said no way I'm going to cancel the convention. We're going to have the convention, it's going to be incredible ... I think we're going to be in great shape."