The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced on Thursday that it is moving Sunday’s Democrat debate from Phoenix, Arizona, to CNN’s studio in Washington, DC, amid growing coronavirus fears.
“Out of an abundance of caution and in order to reduce cross-country travel, all parties have decided that the best path forward is to hold Sunday’s debate at CNN’s studio in Washington, D.C., with no live audience,” DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement on Thursday.
The change comes a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified the Wuhan virus as a global pandemic.
The announcement also comes as Univision’s Jorge Ramos, who was slated to moderate the debate alongside Dana Bash and Jake Tapper, stepped down from his role as a moderator due to possible exposure to the virus.
“Both Mr. Ramos and the person he was in contact with are in good health and symptom free,” Hinojosa said.
“Despite being cleared by medical professionals and out of an abundance of caution, Jorge has decided to step aside from participating in the upcoming March 15 Democratic debate,” she continued.
“Our number one priority has and will continue to be the safety of our staff, campaigns, and all those involved in the debate,” she added.
“At the request of both campaigns and out of an abundance of caution, there will be no live audience at the Arizona debate taking place on Sunday, March 15th,” Hinojosa said in a statement on Tuesday.
The DNC has been in regular communication with local health officials and the Mayor’s office, which advised that we could proceed as planned. Nevertheless, our number one priority has and will continue to be the safety of our staff, campaigns, Arizonans and all those involved in the debate. We will continue to remain in daily contact with all stakeholders through Sunday.
Both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Biden (D) have canceled events due to coronavirus fears. Both were scheduled to hold a rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday evening but canceled that day. Sanders’ campaign said it would decide future events on a “case by case basis.”