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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

Updated 23 mins ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.

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