On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Bernie Sanders campaign announced that the Democratic primary candidate would cancel a rally to be held that night in Cleveland due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. “We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials,” stated communications director Mike Casca, adding that “all future Bernie 2020 events will be evaluated on a case by case basis.” Shortly after the announcement from the Sanders camp, the Daily Beast reported that Joe Biden’s Tuesday night rally in Cleveland would also be canceled.
The nixed rallies show the impact of COVID-19 on the electoral calendar, as the remaining candidates juggle the priorities of rallying voters with remaining healthy and maintaining best practices in order to not spread the virus. Prior to the cancellations, both candidates expressed a willingness to follow public-health officials’ advice to put events on hold. “If they conclude that there shouldn’t be big indoor rallies, then we’ll stop big indoor rallies,” Joe Biden told NBC News on Monday. “We’re going to do whatever they say.” In an interview with Meet the Press on Sunday, Sanders said his campaign was in contact with “public-health officials all over this country” and that “what is most important to us is to protect the health of the American people.”
Sanders also noted that, “This is an issue, obviously, not just for our campaign … It’s an issue for every organization in this country that has large events.” On Monday night, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Tatiana Sanchez reported that Santa Clara County officials are banning events with more than 1,000 people in attendance — which would include San Jose Sharks home games. On Tuesday, Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced that indoor sporting events would ban all spectators except “athletes, parents, and others essential to the game,” which means that March Madness basketball games scheduled for March 20 and March 22 in Cleveland will take place without fans.
One notable exception to this cautious trend is President Trump: Despite the self-quarantining of several Republican lawmakers who attended CPAC, he said last Friday that he would continue to hold “tremendous” campaign rallies.