If fears about the global coronavirus pandemic can cancel the Final Four and postpone the Olympics, nothing is safe, including, it seems, national political conventions.
Top Democrats have told CNN they are considering contingency plans for their national convention, which is scheduled July 13-16 in Milwaukee. Some of those plans include a shortened convention or even an all-digital forum.
More than 435,000 people worldwide have been infected and the number of dead closed in on 20,000 Wednesday, according to the running count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Overall, more than 100,000 have recovered.
In the United States, infections were climbing rapidly and had passed the 55,000 mark, with deaths approaching 800.
Major sporting events have already been canceled, and four of the nation’s five major sports leagues have either suspended their seasons or postponed events.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, already under fire for his party’s nationally ridiculed Iowa caucus, is faced with how to handle Democrats’ formal nominating process for picking their presidential candidate, presumably Joe Biden.
“As we navigate the unprecedented challenge of responding to the coronavirus, we’re exploring a range of contingency options to ensure we can deliver a successful convention without unnecessary risk to public health,” DNC spokeswoman Katie Peters told CNN.
The Republican National Convention is set for six weeks after the Democrats’ gathering, Aug. 24-27, in Charlotte, North Carolina. The GOP has that additional time cushion during which members can evaluate the virus’ impact.
The Democrats’ current rules require delegates to be physically present to nominate a candidate, so rule changes would be needed to allow digitally cast ballots.
A digital convention would also prevent Democrats or Republicans from enjoying four days of international media attention and the accompanying fundraising calls.
Biden holds an almost-insurmountable lead in delegates over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who remains the only Democrat in a field that once included more than two dozen.
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