Democratic leaders have told congressional lawmakers and party delegates to skip the Democratic National Convention set to take place next month amid mounting concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The New York Times first reported that the convention, set to take place from Aug. 17 to 20 in Milwaukee, would be a shell of what officials had hoped for before the planet was thrust into this midst of the pandemic, even after it was delayed for more than a month. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee, will still appear to deliver a keynote speech and accept the nomination, as will a few other party leaders.
“We have been working closely with state and local public health officials, as well as epidemiologists, and have come to the hard decision that members of Congress should not plan to travel to Milwaukee,” Chasseny Lewis, a senior adviser to the convention committee, wrote in an email to lawmakers’ offices, per The Times. “No delegates will travel to Milwaukee and Caucus and Council meetings will take place virtually.”
Most of the events traditionally associated with the DNC will take place online or be canceled, the Times notes, including voting on a party platform. Reports have swirled for weeks that most of the event would be virtual and party officials had previously informed delegates that they shouldn’t plan to head to Wisconsin.
“Ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved with the 2020 Democratic National Convention drives every decision we make,” Katie Peters, a DNC spokeswoman, told The Hill. “This communication reiterates our guidance from several weeks ago that all members of state delegations—including elected leaders—should plan to conduct their official business remotely.”
The plans fall in contrast to those of the GOP. President Donald Trump had urged the Republican nominating convention to be moved to Florida from Charlotte, North Carolina, after the Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, said social distancing measures would be enforced, angering the White House. The GOP moved most of the convention’s major events to Jacksonville last month.
However, Republican officials conceded Thursday that attendance would have to be limited at the events in Florida. Thousands of people are still expected to attend, including upward of 7,000 for Trump’s speech accepting the party’s nomination.
“I want to make clear that we still intend to host a fantastic convention celebration in Jacksonville,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote in a letter to delegates. “We can gather and put on a top-notch event that celebrates the incredible accomplishments of President Trump’s administration and his re-nomination for a second term — while also doing so in a safe and responsible manner.”
Many Republican leaders have said in recent weeks they plan to skip that convention even if it does go forward, citing nationwide infection rates and particularly those in Florida, one of the U.S. epicenters of the pandemic that is reckoning with state leaders’ decision to reopen the economy.