Election: Coronavirus starts to scramble presidential campaign

Associated Press
Joe Biden, accompanied by wife Jill, speaks to members of the press at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday. The former vice president had been scheduled to speak in Cleveland.

The coronavirus outbreak is beginning to scramble presidential campaign events, with the two main Democrats scrapping rallies but President Donald Trump’s re-election effort pressing ahead with a scheduled gathering.

Democrats’ and Republicans’ nominating conventions remain on the schedule for this summer, as officials say they’re monitoring developments. A Sunday-night debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, will be held in Arizona without a live audience, the Democratic National Committee announced late Tuesday. Biden plans to give remarks on Thursday in Delaware about responding to the coronavirus, in place of a previously scheduled event in Florida.

In the U.S., the number of COVID-19 cases has hit 1,039, with 29 deaths.

Tuesday night, as returns were coming in from voting in six states, Sanders and Biden both announced they were halting rallies scheduled to take place in Cleveland.

“All future Bernie 2020 events will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” said a Sanders campaign statement. Biden’s campaign said it would “continue to consult with public health officials and public health guidance and make announcements about future events in the coming days.”

Trump’s campaign on Tuesday announced he will hold an event with supporters in Milwaukee on March 19. Trump plans to launch “Catholics for Trump” at the city’s Wisconsin Center.

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Milwaukee is the site of the July 13-16 Democratic convention. DNC Chairman Tom Perez said Tuesday he doesn’t think it’s “in jeopardy.” He told NPR that he’s confident it will take place and that he’s been in touch with state, local and federal officials to ensure it can be held without risk.

The GOP convention is scheduled for Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C. A spokeswoman told the Charlotte Observer on Monday that Republicans are “closely monitoring and coordinating” with the administration to get regular updates.