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Democratic members of Congress told not to go to Milwaukee for convention

To prevent spread of the coronavirus, the 2020 Democratic National Convention will be largely virtual.

In another signal that the Democratic convention is still on track to be largely virtual because of the coronavirus, a top convention official told members of Congress on Thursday not to travel to Wisconsin next month for the already-scaled back gathering.

In an email sent to congressional chiefs of staff and obtained by NBC News, senior adviser for Congressional affairs Chasseny Lewis told Democratic Senate and House offices that members “should not plan to travel to Milwaukee. No delegates will travel to Milwaukee and Caucus and Council meetings will take place virtually.”

The move bolsters Democrats' plans to avoid the kind of crowded convention hall and related events during the event — where former Vice President Joe Biden will accept the party's nomination — that could expose thousands of attendees to the coronavirus in the midst of a surging pandemic.

Katie Peters, the 2020 Democratic National Convention communications director, said in a statement Thursday night that the email sent to congressional offices “reiterates our guidance from several weeks ago that all members of state delegations — including elected leaders — should plan to conduct their official business remotely.”

Last month, the Democratic National Committee announced it would move to broadcast virtually from Milwaukee and other remote locations across the country due to coronavirus concerns, leading them to scale back the size of its convention considerably and moving to a smaller venue.

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved with the 2020 Democratic National Convention drives every decision we make,” Peters said. “Last week, we sent delegates guidance on how they will vote and we look forward to sharing more details on other opportunities for delegates in the coming weeks.”

The travel discouragement came the same day Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote a letter to members saying that attendance at its convention in Jacksonville, Florida, next month will be restricted, but not prohibited, as a result of the pandemic. President Donald Trump will deliver his nomination acceptance speech on the final day on August 27.

The RNC plans to use mostly outdoor venues and will limit most events to delegates, she said.

The committee had moved most of the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina, where it faced social districting restrictions, to Florida, where it expected fewer pandemic-related rules.

But Florida has recently experienced record-setting COVID-19 case counts and some Republicans say they won't be attending the convention.

Dennis Romero contributed.