Sanders, Biden campaigns abruptly cancel election-night rallies, citing coronavirus concerns

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Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have both canceled their planned election-night rallies Tuesday in Ohio amid coronavirus fears.

The Sanders campaign announced the cancellation of their rally first, which was slated to take place in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Out of concern for public health and safety, we are canceling tonight’s rally in Cleveland,” the Sanders campaign spokesman, Mike Casca, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials, who have communicated concern about holding large, indoor events during the coronavirus outbreak.”

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“Sen. Sanders would like to express his regret to the thousands of Ohioans who had planned to attend the event tonight,” Casca continued, adding that “all future Bernie 2020 events will be evaluated on a case by case basis.”

Minutes later, the former vice president's campaign followed suit, with deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield announcing the cancellation "out of an abundance of caution."

"In accordance with guidance from public officials and out of an abundance of caution, our rally in Cleveland, Ohio tonight is cancelled," Bedingfield said in a statement Tuesday. "We will continue to consult with public health officials and public health guidance and make announcements about future events in the coming days."

She added: "Vice President Biden thanks all of his supporters who wanted to be with us in Cleveland this evening."

The Biden campaign said the candidate will instead speak at National Constitution Center in Philly on Tuesday night.

The announcements came the same day that multiple states are holding presidential primaries, with Michigan carrying the largest delegate prize.

Sanders and Biden had both decided to hold their rallies in Ohio Tuesday night, in an effort to look ahead to the key swing state, which holds its primary next week on March 17.

Earlier in the day, Sanders said that the coronavirus threat was being taken “very seriously,” while taking a swipe at President Trump.

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“We take this issue, unlike the president, very, very seriously,” Sanders said. “What we are doing, wherever we go, whenever we do rallies, we consult with public health officials.”

He added: “Because the last thing in the world we will ever wanna do is put anybody in danger.”

Sanders' announcement comes amid the outbreak of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, which has rocked the political world.

Over the weekend, it was revealed that an attendee of the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, held from Feb. 26 to Feb. 29 outside of Washington, D.C. had tested positive with the virus.

The top levels of government on the GOP side – Trump, Vice President Pence, cabinet officials, top-ranking lawmakers – attended CPAC. Staffers quickly worked to figure out who may have come in contact with the still-unnamed person. These discussions so far have led to several lawmakers going into self-quarantine as a precaution, amid assurances from organizers that nobody else has yet gotten sick from this individual.

The chain of events has fed speculation about whether Trump himself was at risk, as both the president and Pence attended and spoke at the conference. The White House said there is no indication that Trump or Pence was in close proximity to the stricken attendee.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear for how long the candidates will go without holding indoor campaign events. Biden, Sanders and Trump are all in the 70s, which puts them in the age bracket that doctors say could leave them more vulnerable to coronavirus.

But steps have been taken in recent days to still hold events: During a Biden campaign event in Michigan on Monday night, volunteers gave attendees hand sanitizer as they entered the venue.

Fox News' Tara Prindiville and Allie Raffa contributed to this report.