Biden campaign cancels Cleveland rally over coronavirus fears

Greg Nash

Former Vice President Joe Biden is scrapping a planned rally in Cleveland on Tuesday amid growing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. 

“In accordance with guidance from public officials and out of an abundance of caution, our rally in Cleveland, Ohio tonight is cancelled,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager and communications director, said in a statement. 

“We will continue to consult with public health officials and public health guidance and make announcements about future events in the coming days,” she continued.

The Biden campaign’s decision to cancel the rally in Cleveland came moments after Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) campaign announced it would do the same. 

The cancellations on Tuesday marked the first instances in which presidential campaigns have called off events due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The moves come amid heightened concerns over the potential for the disease, known as COVID-19, to spread at crowded, indoor events. 

So far, three cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Ohio. Earlier on Tuesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) asked that indoor sporting events only be attended by athletes, parents and “others essential to the game.”

But the cancellations of two major political rallies in the midst of the Democratic primary contest underscored the impact that the coronavirus outbreak could have on the 2020 presidential race.

President Trump has said he sees no reason to discontinue rallies, but he did not schedule an event ahead of the Tuesday contests as he has for other Democratic primaries in key battleground states.

For Trump, Biden and Sanders, the threat of becoming ill is all the more serious. Not only do they regularly attend political gatherings across the country, but all three candidates are in their 70s, and early data suggests that older people are more likely to experience serious illness when infected with the virus.
 —Updated at 5:19 p.m.
Tags 2020 election Bernie Sanders Cleveland rally Coronavirus Democratic primary Donald Trump Joe Biden

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