Joe Biden still plans to accept the nomination in Milwaukee at this August’s Democratic National Convention, but beyond that the DNC won’t look much like the grand spotlight on the city that organizers imagined before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Democratic National Convention Committee Leaders announced today that the convention is being moved from Fiserv Forum to the Wisconsin Center, and that organizers have advised state delegations not to travel to Milwaukee for the convention.
Organizers instead have announced plans for a largely virtual event, where delegates will vote remotely. Large events like the welcome reception and parties for volunteers have been canceled.
The decision came after consultation with public health officials, and as COVID-19 cases have been surging around the country amid increasing fears of a second wave. On Wednesday, the country broke its record for new COVID-19 cases, recording 38,672 positive test results.
The convention — or what’s left of it — will take place Aug. 17-20.
In a statement, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett put a bright spin on the situation, saying that he’s happy Milwaukee will still host the convention.
“I am saddened that we will not have the opportunity to have an economic impact that would have been so beneficial to the city of Milwaukee,” he said. “But I’m also pleased that the Democratic values place public health above blind political ambition.”
According to a DNC press release, these are the changes
- Conducting official business without risking public health—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. A process is being developed to ensure all delegates can cast their votes on all convention matters, including the presidential nomination, remotely during the convention. DNC standing committee meetings will take place virtually, as well, with the meetings tentatively set for the last week of July.
- Announcing our Convention Chair—U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson will serve as Permanent Chair of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The Convention Chair presides over all official convention business.
- Developing robust health protocols—In addition to continued collaboration with local, state, and federal public health officials, the DNCC is bringing on nationally-renowned epidemiologists and infectious disease experts Dr. W. Ian Lipkin and Dr. Larry Brilliant, who will 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.
- Updating the convention campus—With fewer people gathering in person at this year’s event, convention planners are modifying the convention campus. All convention proceedings will move from Fiserv Forum to the Wisconsin Center, the convention center located in downtown Milwaukee. 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 and determine how many people can safely gather in person later this summer.
- Eliminating official auxiliary events—Previous conventions have included several large-scale events attended by thousands of people, such as a welcome reception for media and delegates as well as an event for volunteers. In keeping with the commitment to deliver a convention that poses no unnecessary risk to public health, convention organizers will no longer proceed with hosting these in-person parties.