Washington — The Democratic National Convention has been postponed to August amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the party announced Thursday.

The move comes after nearly four dozen party officials told CBS News that Democratic leaders should either scale back, postpone or rethink the convention. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, also said Tuesday it was “hard to envision” the event moving forward as planned.

The convention was slated to kick off July 13 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and end July 16, but is now expected to begin the week of August 17. The event, which brings together thousands of Democrats from around the country, will still take place in Milwaukee.

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“In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention,” Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, said in a statement. “During this critical time, when the scope and scale of the pandemic and its impact remain unknown, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of health care professionals and emergency responders.”

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez reiterated that “the health and safety of our convention attendees and the people of Milwaukee is our top priority.”
“We will continue to be in contact with local, state, and federal health officials as we monitor this fluid situation,” he said.

With the new start date of August 17, the Democrats’ nominating convention will kick off just a week before Republicans are scheduled to flock to Charlotte, North Carolina, for their national convention.

The coronavirus has upended the 2020 presidential election, leaving Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to drastically rethink how they connect with voters. The two candidates, who are working from their respective homes in Delaware and Vermont, have taken to holding virtual rallies with supporters and press briefings conducted via teleconferences.

The deadly illness, which has claimed the lives of more than 5,100 people in the U.S., has also led several states to postpone their primaries. Biden on Tuesday urged states to begin preparing for a surge in absentee voting and suggested election officials begin looking into other options as November draws nearer, including secure, remote voting.

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