The Democratic National Committee (DNC) said Monday that it has “no plans to cancel” the presidential primary debate scheduled for Sunday in Phoenix because of fears over the coronavirus.
The first debate pitting former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE against Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) one-on-one will go on, DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told the Arizona Republic on Monday.
“We are in touch with local officials and will follow their guidance,” Hinojosa said in a statement. “There are no plans to cancel the debate.”
The DNC’s announcement comes as concerns over the coronavirus and large gatherings of people spread across the country. The debate will bring campaign staffers, the public and reporters all to Phoenix’s Arizona Federal Theatre.
But officials from Phoenix are discussing precautions “daily” with Maricopa County, the state government, public health officials, the DNC, Sky Harbor International Airport, CNN, Phoenix Convention Center, the theater and “other pertinent parties.”
“We understand the responsibility that comes with hosting an event under these circumstances,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego (D) said in a statement.
“We understand that the fear felt by residents is real, which is why we want to ensure transparency and efficiency in the dissemination of information on this topic,” she said. “At this time, we are working with the understanding that the debate is moving forward as planned and taking proper safety precautions in the lead up to Sunday. Based on this information we will reassess daily what possible changes need to be made.”
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A spokesperson for Sanders told the Republic that the senator “plans to be in Phoenix on Sunday for the debate.” The Hill has reached out to the Biden campaign for comment.
There have been five people who tested positive for coronavirus in Arizona, with seven other tests pending and 44 people who tested negative, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.