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DNC moves Democratic debate from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., over coronavirus concerns

The Democratic National Committee earlier announced that the debate would no longer be held before a live audience.
Image: Bernie Sanders Joe Biden
Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden during the ninth Democratic presidential candidates debate in Las Vegas on Feb. 19, 2020.Mike Blake / Reuters file

The Democratic National Committee on Thursday announced that Sunday's primary debate will be moved from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., as the nation grapples with the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this week, as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders began canceling campaign rallies, the DNC announced the debate would no longer feature a live audience while CNN, the debate's host, said the traditional spin and press rooms would be scrapped.

"Out of an abundance of caution and in order to reduce cross-country travel, all parties have decided that the best path forward is to hold Sunday’s debate at CNN’s studio in Washington, D.C., with no live audience," DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement.

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Hinojosa added that Univision anchor and moderator Jorge Ramos was recently in proximity with a person who was in direct contact with another person who tested positive for coronavirus. While Ramos and that other individual are symptom free while Ramos was cleared by medical professionals, he will not participate in the upcoming debate.

Univision, which is hosting the debate in conjunction with CNN, will instead have anchor Ilia Calderón fill his moderating role.

"Our number one priority has and will continue to be the safety of our staff, campaigns, and all those involved in the debate," Hinojosa said.