DNC to Host an Almost Entirely Virtual Convention Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases 1

The Democratic National Convention Committee on Wednesday announced plans to host a scaled-back, largely virtual convention as coronavirus cases surge in several cities. Former Vice President Joe Biden will accept the nomination in Milwaukee, and the Wisconsin city will serve as an anchor for “both live broadcasts and curated content” from other satellite locations across the country.

“Leadership means being able to adapt to any situation,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement. “That’s exactly what we’ve done with our convention. Unlike this president, Joe Biden and Democrats are committed to protecting the health and safety of the American people. I couldn’t be prouder of the way our team has organized and mobilized to get out the vote and ensure a successful convention anchored in Wisconsin, and I’m grateful for the extraordinary leadership of our partners in the city of Milwaukee. Donald Trump’s days in the Oval Office are numbered.”

The committee announced that the DNC will include four nights of programming from Aug. 17 to 20, led by nine-time Emmy-award winning producer Ricky Kirshner. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) will serve as the convention chair. In addition, convention proceedings will be moved from the planned Fiserv Forum to the Wisconsin Center, located downtown. 

“Vice President Biden intends to proudly accept his party’s nomination in Milwaukee and take the next step forward towards making Donald Trump a one-term president,” Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, said in a statement. “The city of Milwaukee has been an incredible partner and we are committed to highlighting Wisconsin as a key battleground state at our convention this August. This will be a convention for all Americans who wish to join our mission to win the battle for the soul of this nation and build a fairer, more united country for us all.”

The Daily Beast first reported exclusively of plans to host satellite events throughout the country with expected entertainment, including live made-for-television content with musical events. The move was part of ongoing discussions around scaling back the in-person event to take public health precautions for COVID-19.

“Everything is on the line this November, which is why we must find creative and forward-looking ways to organize, mobilize, and unite our party around our shared values at the convention so that we can launch Joe Biden to victory this fall,” said Joe Solmonese, the convention’s CEO. 

On Wednesday, the DNC also announced that convention organizers will launch a series of engagement campaigns to allow voters to share ideas about convention programming.

“Makes sense,” Andrew Werthmann, a DNC member from Wisconsin, told The Daily Beast. “We had a very successful virtual convention in the state just over a week ago and it provided more access and invited many more voices.”

According to the DNC, a process is still in the works to make sure that delegates are still able to effectively cast their votes remotely on “all convention matters,” including the nomination.

Republicans, however, are trending in a far less conservative direction public health-wise for their August convention. President Trump and the Republican National Convention pulled their marquee event out of Charlotte after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper wouldn’t promise the president the ability to have a packed arena due to continued concerns over COVID-19 infections in the state. 

GOP governors in Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida then rushed to try and woo the convention to their area before the party settled on having Trump give his nomination speech in Jacksonville. That move is already worrying some as they see the lax mitigation measures followed by attendees at Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma last week. 

With additional reporting from Hunter Woodall