The Democratic Party is now urging lawmakers not to travel to Milwaukee for the Democratic National Convention in August, amid the continuing increase of COVID-19 cases in Milwaukee and across the U.S.
The party told congressional staff in an email Thursday night that it had "come to the hard decision that Members of Congress should not plan to travel to Milwaukee," and "Caucus and Council meetings will take place virtually."
"Ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved with the 2020 Democratic National Convention drives every decision we make, and this communication reiterates our guidance from several weeks ago that all members of state delegations—including elected leaders—should plan to conduct their official business remotely," said DNCC communications director Katie Peters.
Convention delegates were also informed this week that that they should not plan to travel to Milwaukee and that they would receive instructions to securely cast their ballots from home. A senior Democratic Party official stressed that the email is merely reiterating what the party had already announced — that a far smaller number of people will be in Milwaukee and Democratic officials didn't want or expect VIPs or lawmakers to attend in person in order to protect their own health and safety.
The email to congressional chiefs of staff, written by a senior adviser to the convention committee, Chasseny Lewis, goes on to say, "What we know now is that this year's Convention will be reduced more drastically than we originally expected" and the party promises to share more information soon about how to participate online throughout the week of the convention.
The party decided in late June that delegates would be instructed not to plan to travel to Milwaukee, but at the time it did not disclose which members would be expected to attend. If it were a normal presidential election year, the delegates would fill a basketball arena to cheer on Joe Biden as he accepts the Democratic presidential nomination. The former vice president is still expected to formally accept his party's nomination in Milwaukee.
The New York Times first reported the email.
The Republican Party, too, is significantly scaling down its convention in Jacksonville, Florida, in August due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, in order to comply with state and local health guidelines. COVID cases have been surging in Florida in recent weeks, raising concerns about the safety of holding a traditional convention.
Ed O'Keefe contributed reporting.