The shoe that seemed inevitable dropped on Thursday morning: Due to the coronavirus, Milwaukee’s Democratic National Convention is not happening in mid-July.
But the city will still get its chance in the limelight, it would seem. Instead of being outright canceled, the massive political event is being postponed, to the week of Aug. 17.
It appears the pandemic will shape the convention beyond just the date, too. The Democratic National Convention Committee said in its announcement Thursday that details of the event remain under review, including “everything from adjusting the convention’s format to crowd size and schedule.”
“Ultimately, the health and safety of our convention attendees and the people of Milwaukee is our top priority,” said Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Fiserv Forum, which is hosting the convention’s main event, is available during August, as are adequate hotel accommodations, convention committee said in its announcement.
“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,” said Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee. “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.”
As originally planned, the convention was expected to bring some 50,000 delegates, media members, party officials and other guests to Milwaukee from July 13-16. Events were expected to be held at the arena as well as UWM Panther Arena, Miller High Life Theater and the Wisconsin Center.
But as the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic canceled events well into June and July, the convention became less and less certain. This week, Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden told MSNBC’s Brian Williams that he didn’t expect the convention to go forward as planned.
“It’s hard to envision that,” Biden said Tuesday. “We ought to be able — we were able to do it in the middle of the Civil War all the way through to World War II — have Democratic and Republican conventions and primaries and elections and still have public safety. And we’re able to do both. But the fact is it may have to be different.”
The news comes just a few days ahead of Wisconsin’s presidential primary and spring general election, which is still scheduled for Tuesday despite a massive shortage of poll workers and a state order encouraging people to stay at home to curtail the spread of the virus.