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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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In an interview with "Axios on HBO," Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez flatly denied that he was even entertaining the idea of canceling July's Democratic convention in Milwaukee and replacing it with an online convention due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Driving the news: In the interview, which was taped Monday in Florida and will air Sunday night at 6pm ET/PT, I asked Perez whether he would cancel the Democratic convention given that major companies are canceling events across the country because of the virus. "No," Perez replied.

  • "We are working with our state and local partners, and I'm confident that we work a plan that will enable us to have our convention," he said.
  • He added that the DNC was in touch with local, state and federal public health officials and monitoring the situation "every single day."

I asked Perez whether, if he had to, the DNC could pull off an online convention — where delegates would have to vote remotely. Perez indicated that an online convention wasn't something he was contemplating.

  • "We'd have to change the rules," he replied. "We're not contemplating rule changes."
  • Perez said he was very confident "in the competence of our team."

Between the lines: Section 11 of the DNC's charter and bylaws states that "voting by proxy shall not be permitted at the National Convention." Hence Perez's comment about an online convention requiring rules changes.

Why this matters: Public health officials are advising elderly people to stay at home as much as possible and to avoid crowds. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders canceled rallies this week out of concern for public safety.

So it's not crazy to think this year's political conventions — where thousands of politicians, activists and journalists mingle in close quarters — would be at risk of cancellation.

  • If the DNC is forced to cancel a physical gathering of delegates, an online vote may be the only workable solution.
  • In that case, the DNC — which has suffered major problems with technology and information security — would have to oversee a secure and seamless digital convention with the pressure of American citizens and America's foreign adversaries bearing down on them.

Go deeper

12 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

13 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 13 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."

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