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Adjusting to the pandemic: DNC advances contingency options for 2020 National Convention in Milwaukee

The Democratic National Committee is moving forward with plans for an in-person nominating convention in Milwaukee this summer while taking steps to keep the public safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

On May 12, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee voted in favor of a resolution that gives committee officials authority to make changes to convention procedures to ensure the event is conducted in a manner that protects the health of participants. The decision comes after the convention was postponed in early April from July 13-16 to the week of August 17.

“This change is providing the convention team with additional time to identify the safest and most appropriate structure of this historic event,” committee co-chair James Roosevelt said during a committee meeting Tuesday. “Contingency plans are being developed to ensure Democrats can nominate a candidate without risking public health.”

While DNC officials said they still intend to conduct the convention in person at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum, the resolution gives organizers the ability to change the event to a partially or fully virtual format if necessary. Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Joe Solmonese released the following statement ahead of the meeting:

“Every day we are witnessing the extraordinary ways in which Americans are adjusting to this unprecedented moment and the convention team is tapping into that same resilient spirit as we develop contingency plans to deliver a safe and successful event in Milwaukee this summer. Safeguarding the health and well-being of everyone involved with our convention remains our top priority. This resolution provides our team with increased flexibility to adjust our plans, ensure that every delegate is able to accomplish their official business without putting their own health at risk, and enables us to chart the most appropriate course forward as we work to launch our nominee to victory in November.”

DNC Chairman Tom Perez said during the meeting Tuesday that they are keeping their focus on planning a successful Democratic convention.

“At the end of the day, our no. 1 priority is the health and safety of the America people,” Perez said. “Unlike our Republican counterparts, we will not have our public health heads in the sand.”

The resolution will now go to the full Democratic National Committee for a final vote. The changes only apply to the 2020 convention, not future conventions. The committee has been making contingency plans for the event for the past few months. Officials said they are following guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.

Milwaukee was selected to host the convention last March. This will be the first time that a Democratic National Convention will be held in a Midwest city other than Chicago in over a century. The convention was expected to bring roughly 50,000 people and a $200 million economic impact to the swing state.

The Republican National Convention is set to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina the week of August 24.

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