Former Vice President Joe Biden will accept the Democratic presidential nomination at a nearly all-virtual convention in Milwaukee in August, but delegates were told to stay home because of health concerns, the Democratic National Committee said Wednesday.
“After consulting with public health officials about the COVID-19 pandemic, convention organizers are announcing today that they have determined state delegations should not plan to travel to Milwaukee and should plan to conduct their official convention business remotely,” the DNC said in a statement.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signaled in May that the party was likely to host a virtual convention because of the coronavirus pandemic so as not to put “stress on the public health system, nor put the delegates and others that come to the convention in harm’s way.”
The U.S. recorded a record number of new coronavirus cases for a single day on Wednesday, with 36,358 new positive tests reported nationwide, according to NBC News’ data tracking.
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The Democratic gathering will be in stark contrast to the Republican National Convention in late August in Jacksonville, Florida, where officials plan to check temperatures, implement social distancing guidelines and provide sanitizing stations. President Donald Trump will accept the party’s nomination in person.
The DNC had planned to have its convention in July in Milwaukee, but it was postponed until August because of COVID-19 to give planners more time to determine how to proceed.
Wisconsin, which Trump won by a slim margin in 2016, is a key battleground state for the Democrats to win in November. At their convention, Democrats will officially nominate Biden as their candidate.
According to the DNC statement, planners said Milwaukee will “anchor” four events for the week of the convention, which is scheduled for Aug. 17-20. It will include live virtual broadcasts from Milwaukee and other satellite locations across the country.
The DNC said it is developing a process for most convention business to occur remotely, including having all delegates cast their votes and scheduling committee meetings leading up to the convention. It said it also tapped infectious disease experts to advise on health and safety protocols.
The committee has significantly scaled down the event, moving it from the 17,000-seat Fiserv Forum to the Wisconsin Center, which has a 4,500-seat theater and a 12,000-seat arena.
The committee said it is eliminating several large-scale events it has held in the past, such as volunteer events and a welcome reception for media and delegates. The DNC said that it is evaluating how it will determine how many people can be on the convention floor and that it is still finalizing plans.
Dartunorro Clark is a political reporter for NBC News.