US Democrats on Thursday postponed their national convention until August 17 over concerns about coronavirus, pushing back by five weeks the gathering that nominates the party’s candidate to challenge Donald Trump in November.
“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,” Democratic National Convention Committee head Joe Solmonese said in a statement.
The decision came after the party’s likely nominee, Joe Biden, said the convention, originally scheduled for July 13-16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, would likely need to be delayed to allow for a greater chance of holding a safe in-person gathering.
The pandemic has already killed more than 5,300 people in the United States, which has a world-leading tally of over 226,000 confirmed infections.
#UPDATE US Democrats postponed their national convention until August 17 over concerns about coronavirus, pushing back by five weeks the gathering that nominates the party's candidate to challenge Donald Trump in November https://t.co/YP5Z6c4DxJ
— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 2, 2020
Roughly nine in 10 Americans are under stay-at-home orders, and a staggering 10 million people in the country have filed for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks.
The US Democratic nomination race has boiled down to former vice president Biden, the clear frontrunner, and his lone remaining rival, the liberal Senator Bernie Sanders.
But conventional on-the-ground campaigning has been frozen for some three weeks in efforts to avoid viral spread.
The convention’s planning team will use the coming weeks to assess all options to reduce risks to public health.
“These options include everything from adjusting the convention’s format to crowd size and schedule,” the Democratic statement said.
“Leadership means being able to adapt, and that’s exactly what our party is doing,” DNC chair Tom Perez said.
“Ultimately, the health and safety of our convention attendees and the people of Milwaukee is our top priority.”
The Republican National Convention is currently scheduled to begin August 24.
Despite the Democratic convention’s postponement, Wisconsin is still scheduled to hold its primary election next Tuesday, defying demands from political officials — and from Sanders — that the vote be postponed.
Several other states have already postponed their primaries that were originally scheduled for March and April.
AFP with additional input from GVS News Desk.