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DNC moves next Democratic debate from Arizona to D.C. due to coronavirus

Joe Biden expands lead over Bernie Sanders

Washington — The upcoming Democratic presidential debate scheduled for Sunday will be held in Washington, D.C., instead of Arizona, the original site, due to concerns about the coronavirus, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) said Thursday.

"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.

The party also announced Jorge Ramos, who was supposed to be a moderator for the debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, will no longer participate because he may have been exposed to the illness.

"Both Mr. Ramos and the person he was in contact with are in good health and symptom free," Hinojosa said. "Despite being cleared by medical professionals and out of an abundance of caution, Jorge has decided to step aside from participating in the upcoming March 15 democratic debate." 

Ramos will be replaced by Univision news anchor Ilia Calderón. CNN and Univision are hosting the debate.

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

Biden and Sanders are set to face off Sunday in the 11th debate of the Democratic primary season. Both campaigns, however, have had to alter their plans due to the spread of the coronavirus as states and the federal government rush to combat its spread.

On Tuesday, Biden and Sanders canceled dueling rallies set to take place in Cleveland, Ohio, after Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency and warned against holding large-scale events. Biden also called off a campaign event in Tampa scheduled for Thursday and was set to deliver remarks on the coronavirus in Wilmington, Delaware.

President Trump is also refraining from traveling due to the coronavirus. He canceled travel plans to Nevada and Colorado, as well as a campaign event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

There are more than 1,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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