Mar 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sanders, Biden to debate without a live audience in Arizona out of caution for coronavirus

In this image, Sanders and Biden stand next to each other on the debate stage.

Biden and Sanders debate on Feb. 25 in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders will not debate in front of a live audience in Phoenix, Arizona, this weekend, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego confirmed on Tuesday.

What's happening: There are two confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Arizona, and four presumptive positive cases, per the state health department. One confirmed case is travel-related, while the other confirmed case and all presumptive cases are believed to have been transmitted person-to-person.

What they're saying: The lack of a live audience at Sunday's debate comes at the request of Biden and Sanders' campaigns, Gallego said.

"At the request of both campaigns and out of an abundance of caution, there will be no live audience at the Arizona debate taking place on Sunday, March 15th. The DNC has been in regular communication with local health officials and the Mayor's office, which advised that we could proceed as planned. 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."
— Democratic National Committee communications director Xochitl Hinojosa in a statement.
"At the request of the campaigns and out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to eliminate the live debate audience, the press filing center and spin room in Phoenix."
— CNN, a cohost of the debate, in a statement.

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