DNC Announces There Will Be No Audience For March Democratic Debate Amid Coronavirus Fears

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced Tuesday that there will not be a live audience for the March 15 debate because of the novel coronavirus.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaigns both requested there be no live audience at the debate, which will be held in Phoenix, Arizona. The news comes as officials have urged people to avoid large gatherings and numerous upcoming events continue to be cancelled.

“DNC has been in regular communication with local health officials and the Mayor’s office, which advised that we could proceed as planned,” DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement according to CNN, who is co-hosting the debate with Univision.

“Nevertheless, our number one priority has and will continue to be the safety of our staff, campaigns, Arizonans and all those involved in the debate. We will continue to remain in daily contact with all stakeholders through Sunday.” (RELATED: Trump Administration Reportedly Fighting With Airlines As Coronavirus Spreads)

CNN agreed with the decision, the network said according to a statement. The network also announced that the debate will no longer have a press filing center or a spin room. (RELATED: Here Are The Members Of Congress Self-Quarantining After Meeting Person With Coronavirus At CPAC)

“CNN’s top priority is the safety of our employees and community members,” CNN said according to a statement. “This extends to guests planning to attend or cover our debate on March 15. At the request of the campaigns and out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to eliminate the debate live audience, the press filing center and spin room in Phoenix.”

This news comes after both Biden and Sanders’ campaigns cancelled Tuesday rallies in Ohio. This came after Republican Gov. Mike DeWine advised against large gatherings.