Top officials from the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee are monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and gauging how it could impact their respective conventions this summer, officials from both committees tell CNN.
The conversations among Democrats remain informal, DNC officials say, but Democrats are starting to monitor the spread of the virus – with an eye, specifically, on how it would hamper plans to bring thousands of top Democrats together in July to nominative the party’s standard bearer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“Conventions always have contingency plans in place,” said Mari Cardona, a member of the DNC.
Cardona, who is a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee, added that informal conversations have begun, but the DNC has not “had any conversations about changing the rules at this point.”
The same is true for the Republicans, who – according to a RNC spokeswoman – are monitoring the spread of the virus and how it could impact their August convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“The Convention Team is closely monitoring and coordinating with key stakeholders across the administration, HHS, and CDC to obtain regular updates,” the spokeswoman said. “We prioritize the health and safety of attendees and have the utmost confidence in the administration’s work and preparations.”
The prospect of coronavirus impacting a nominating convention shows how disruptive the novel coronavirus outbreak could be to major political events around the country this election year. An altered convention could be a disappointment for both parties, in large part because of the television coverage they receive.
So far, with a growing outbreak of coronavirus in the United States, health experts have said that avoiding large crowds where the virus could spread is a good idea for older people, who appear to be more vulnerable, and some major gatherings, such as industry conferences and international summits, have been scrapped. Still, President Donald Trump has defended continuing to hold his rallies, sporting and entertainment events in the US are proceeding as planned and Democratic presidential candidates continue to host their own events.
Max Everett, vice president of the RNC’s national organizing group, told reporters on Monday that the party is “working with key stakeholders in the administration, as well as a lot of state, federal and local partners.”
“We’re going to prioritize the health and safety of all attendees and travelers,” he said. “We have a lot of faith and confidence in the work the administration is doing right now.”
The spread of the coronavirus also came up during a call between members of the executive committee of the Association of State Democratic Committees, a DNC official said. Coronavirus was not the focus of the call, but it did come up during a question and answer session.
Concerns among DNC members were first reported by The Daily Beast.
Joe Solmonese, the CEO of the convention, said “ensuring the safety of convention attendees and local residents is – and will always remain – our top priority.”
“Every convention necessitates developing a number of contingency plans to provide for a variety of scenarios. As we prepare to welcome Americans to Milwaukee this summer, the convention team will remain in constant communication with the local, state, and federal authorities responsible for protecting public health and security,” said Solmonese. “We will continue to monitor this developing situation closely and follow the guidance of the CDC and state and local health officials in the days and weeks ahead.”