Moderators for Sunday’s Democratic presidential primary debate won’t have to worry about warning the audience to not cheer or interrupt the candidates when they’re on stage.
That’s because there is not going to be an audience when former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders take the stage in Arizona.
Amid growing concern over the coronavirus outbreak and as public gatherings around the country are delayed or cancelled, the Democratic National Committee has decided that Sunday’s debate will not be held in front of a live audience.
“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,” DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement.
Hinojosa added: “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.”
While Arizona has not been as affected by the coronavirus outbreak as other states, it still has at least six reported cases as on Monday and some events in the state have been cancelled out of precaution.
The state’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, and Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ held a press conference that mostly focused on suggested preventative measures at nursing homes. Ducey said that he did not think it was necessary to cancel large gatherings “unless they are serving a high-risk population.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Fox News’ Lee Ross, Paul Steinhauser and The Associated Press contributed to this report.