Former vice president Joe Biden will not travel to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee to accept the party's presidential nomination because of concerns over the coronavirus, the party announced Wednesday.
The decision, made with guidance from public health experts, effectively moves all of the convention's signature events online, after years of planning for a giant event in Wisconsin. No speakers will attend the convention in Milwaukee, though the party still plans to hold at least some events in the city. Speeches from speakers who have not yet been announced will instead be streamed online, some live from locations across the country.
"While we wish we could move forward with welcoming the world to beautiful Milwaukee in two weeks, we recognize protecting the health of our host community and everyone involved with this convention must be paramount,” Joe Solmonese, CEO of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, said in a statement.
The party conventions, traditionally some of the biggest political events of presidential years, have been radically upended by the coronavirus pandemic. The DNC has been scaling back its presence in Milwaukee for months. President Donald Trump announced in late July that the Republican National Convention would no longer feature events and speeches in Jacksonville, Florida, instead leaving official business to events in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Trump has not yet announced where he will give his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination, but on Fox & Friends Wednesday morning, he suggested he may try to give the speech at the White House.
Biden had signaled for months that the Democratic convention may ultimately be mostly virtual.
In April, Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that Democrats may need to do a “virtual convention” after the convention's date was moved from July to August as coronavirus cases continued to surge around the country.
“We may not be able to put 10, 20, 30,000 people in one place,” Biden told Stephanopoulos.
In June, organizers for the Democratic National Convention encouraged state delegations not to travel to Milwaukee for the convention and moved the event to a smaller venue. The Biden campaign told USA Today at the time that Joe was still planning to accept his nomination in Milwaukee, but did not guarantee it.
“Vice President Biden intends to proudly accept his party's nomination in Milwaukee and take the next step forward towards making Donald Trump a one-term president," Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said in a statement to USA Today.
The Democratic National Convention is scheduled to begin on Aug. 17 and end Aug. 20 and will air two hours of programming each night. The Republican National Convention is due to begin the following week.