Democrats Plan to Hold Virtual Convention Amid Pandemic Concerns

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during an event in Dover, Del., on June 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CN) — Taking a much different approach than the GOP in light of Covid-19 concerns, the Democratic National Committee announced its plans for “a convention across America” anchored in Milwaukee from August 17–20.

Milwaukee will anchor the events for the week and programming will include both live broadcasts and curated content from Milwaukee and other satellite cities, locations and landmarks across the country.

The convention will culminate with Joe Biden officially accepting the party’s nomination to try and unseat President Donald Trump in the November election.

“Vice President Biden intends to proudly accept his party’s nomination in Milwaukee and take the next step forward towards making Donald Trump a one-term president,” said Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon in a statement.

Dillon said the Biden campaign is committed to highlighting Wisconsin as a battleground state.

“This will be a convention for all Americans who wish to join our mission to win the battle for the soul of this nation and build a fairer, more united country for us all,” Dillon said.

Aside from nominating Biden, organizers say the convention, through multiple formats, will also celebrate the promise of America by featuring the people and their stories that represent the strength and collective humanity of our nation and demonstrate that Biden is the leader the country needs right now.

Planners are currently developing new ways to organize and engage online with voters and later this week will launch the first of a series of engagement campaigns that will allow Americans across the country to share their ideas and add their voice to convention programming.

The convention will have four nights of programming, produced by nine-time Emmy award winner Ricky Kirshner, who has worked on every Democratic National Convention since 1992.

U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson will serve as permanent chair of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

The convention will follow robust health protocols designed to keep attendees from catching Covid-19. Nationally renowned epidemiologists and infectious disease experts Dr. W. Ian Lipkin and Dr. Larry Brilliant will attend to help advise on efforts to protect the health and safety of convention staff, attendees and the people of Wisconsin.

Dr. Lipkin, Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, is an expert in diagnostic testing and collaborated with the WHO on coronavirus outbreak control for SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. Dr. Brilliant, a former professor of epidemiology, is best known for his work on the successful eradication of smallpox.

Planners also announced that after consulting with public health officials about the COVID-19 pandemic, they have determined state delegations should not plan to travel to Milwaukee and should plan to conduct their official convention business remotely. A process is being developed to ensure all delegates can cast their votes on all convention matters in a remote manner.

DNC standing committee meetings will take place virtually as well, with the meetings tentatively set for the last week of July.

With fewer physical attendees, all convention proceedings will move from Fiserv Forum to the Wisconsin Center and specifics regarding delegation representation on the convention floor will be provided after public health officials complete their assessment of the trajectory and impact of the coronavirus pandemic to determine how many can safely gather later this summer.

The DNC also cancelled all auxiliary events that came with previous conventions. These events attracted thousands of people and planners didn’t want to expose the public to unnecessary health risks.

The precautions starkly contrast to the Republican National Convention, which is set for Aug. 24–27 in Jacksonville, Florida. The location was moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, at the last minute after the state’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper refused to guarantee that it would be held without size restrictions.

Trump and the GOP’s decision to move the Republican convention without substantial Covid-19 precautions to Florida has been criticized given the surge of cases in the panhandle state since May. Florida topped the 100,000 mark in confirmed cases on Monday.

Trump, in particular, has refused to wear a mask while making public appearances and at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday said that he told his health officials to hold back on testing for Covid-19 to keep the infection numbers down.

The United States has more than 2.336 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 with more than 121,000 deaths since Jan. 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the last seven days, the country has averaged around 30,000 new cases a day with a single day record 34,313 set on Tuesday.

DNC chair Tom Perez blasted the Trump administration’s decision to hold a traditional convention considering the infection numbers.

“Leadership means being able to adapt to any situation,” Perez said in a statement. “That’s exactly what we’ve done with our convention. Unlike this president, Joe Biden and Democrats are committed to protecting the health and safety of the American people.”

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