The contest for the Democratic presidential nomination between former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) enters a new stage on Friday amid the coronavirus outbreak, as Biden hosts his first “virtual town hall” and both candidates prepare for a one-on-one debate Sunday in Washington without a live audience.

Biden is staging his event with voters in Illinois on Friday afternoon, while Sanders has advertised no plans for Friday. The pandemic has rapidly consumed the campaign, with candidates readjusting their schedules, canceling rallies and relying on online meetings with supporters. The Biden and Sanders campaigns both told staffers Thursday to work from home.

Biden and Sanders will go before the voters again Saturday in the Northern Mariana Islands and Tuesday in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — contests in which Biden hopes to add to his delegate lead and put the race out of reach for Sanders.

The Democratic Party’s presidential delegate process | Results: March 10 primaries | Election calendar

Some Democratic Party officials this week began to express concern about plans to bring tens of thousands of people to Milwaukee for the July convention, even as the party’s leadership said it was not entertaining canceling the event or holding it remotely.

In Wisconsin, where Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday declared a health emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, Andrew Werthmann, a member of the Democratic National Committee, said he intended to raise questions about the need for contingencies. “We have to look at this,” he said.

Concern deepened as state parties took it upon themselves to alter their procedures in compliance with health guidelines. On Thursday, the Nevada Democratic Party canceled county conventions scheduled for next month. And Werthmann said one of his counterparts in California had informed him via text message that meetings to elect new DNC members in the state had been canceled, replaced by a mail-in system.

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As Sanders stays in the race for the Democratic nomination, he’s identified climate change as a top issue for young voters and argued that Biden, is not willing to take the dramatic steps needed to save the planet.

But in his nearly three decades in elected office, Sanders’s all-or-nothing approach means he has sometimes forgone legislative efforts to make near-term progress on climate.

Sanders has viewed global warming as a top priority for years, pressing for major cuts in the nation’s emissions of greenhouse gases and a switch from fossil fuels to wind, solar and other renewables.

More than almost any other issue, Sanders’s approach to climate change suggests how he would govern as president. While he’s occasionally found common ground with like-minded Democrats, he has often rejected incremental steps toward potentially durable, bipartisan compromise.

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