Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) canceled their Tuesday evening campaign rallies in Cleveland, Ohio, due to concerns stemming from the spread of the coronavirus.
“In accordance with guidance from public officials and out of an abundance of caution, our rally in Cleveland, Ohio tonight is cancelled. We will continue to consult with public health officials and public health guidance and make announcements about future events In the coming days,” Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement. “Vice President Biden thanks all of his supporters who wanted to be with us in Cleveland this. Additional details on where Vice President Biden will address the press tonight are forthcoming.”
“Out of concern for public health and safety, we are canceling tonight’s rally in Cleveland,” said Sanders campaign communications director Mike Casca said in a separate statement. “We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials, who have communicated concern about holding large, indoor events during the coronavirus outbreak. Sen. Sanders would like to express his regret to the thousands of Ohioans who had planned to attend the event tonight.”
The Vermont lawmaker’s White House campaign will also evaluate future rallies “on a case by case basis.”
The decision comes after Ohio confirmed its first three cases of the deadly illness. The state is currently testing an additional 15 people for possible exposure. Earlier Tuesday Gov. Mike DeWine (D) declared a state of emergency in order for the state to be able to purchase health supplies without contract bidding.
The development comes as the Democrat primary enters a critical stage for both Sanders and Biden.
A combined 352 delegates are up for grabs in Tuesday voting in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington. A week ago, Biden took over as the party front-runner after a dominating performance on Super Tuesday, when he won 10 states to Sanders’ four — including Texas.
Both candidates campaigned hard in Michigan on Monday, which is the top prize among Tuesday’s contests with 125 delegates.
Whoever wins Tuesday, Michigan is also a state that will be critical to win in November. The state voted for Republican Donald Trump four years ago and was considered one of the key surprise victories that helped him win the presidency over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The UPI contributed to this report.