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The Democratic National Convention will be postponed until August due to coronavirus concerns, planners said Thursday, in a historic and stunning change to the presidential election calendar.
The convention committee said the event will be held the week of Aug. 17, in Milwaukee, Wis. It was originally slated for July 13-16.
“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. 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,” Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, said in a statement.
“I have always believed that American innovation and ingenuity shine brightest during our darkest days, and for that reason, I’m confident our convention planning team and our partners will find a way to deliver a convention in Milwaukee this summer that places our Democratic nominee on the path to victory in November.”
The announcement comes just hours after former Vice President Joe Biden — the likely nominee — said he expected such a delay.
“I doubt whether the Democratic Convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July, early July. I think it's going to have to move into August,” Biden said Wednesday night in an interview with Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s "The Tonight Show."
Biden pointed out that “even then, the Republican and Democratic Convention, we're going to have to … we just have to be prepared for the alternative and the alternative.”
The former vice president hinted that how long the worst effects of the pandemic last would determine convention planning.
The coronavirus outbreak, which has spread globally, has forced most Americans to huddle in their homes in hopes of preventing the spread of the virus, which causes the deadly COVID-19 disease. Those venturing outside are urged to practice social distancing – keeping a minimum of six feet apart – and all large gatherings have been scrapped.
Biden said in an interview on MSNBC on Tuesday night that “it’s hard to envision” thousands of Democratic convention delegates, officials, media and other spectators packed inside an arena this summer.
But Biden added that “we ought to be able to do what we were able to do in the middle of the Civil War all the way through to World War II: have Democratic and Republican conventions, and primaries, and elections, and still have public safety. And we're able to do both. But the fact is that it may have to be different."
The Democratic convention will now be held the week before the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C.
Moving the Democratic convention to August — which was under consideration for weeks by top Democratic Party officials — became easier to do after the International Olympic Committee last week postponed the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. They originally were scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9.