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Next Democratic debate will not have an audience due to coronavirus fears

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Posted at 6:46 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 20:12:33-04

The Democratic Party and CNN announced that the next Democratic Party debate, which will likely feature Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, will be without an audience.

CNN also announced that the media filing room and spin room, an area for journalists to gather interviews for reports, will also be closed.

"CNN's top priority is the safety of our employees and community members," the network said in a statement. "This extends to guests planning to attend or cover our debate on March 15. At the request of the campaigns and out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to eliminate the debate live audience, the press filing center and spin room in Phoenix."

Sunday's debate will be the first one-on-one debate between Biden and Sanders.

Earlier on Tuesday, both campaigns canceled planned rallies that were slated to be held in Cleveland. The Cleveland area had three confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

"DNC has been in regular communication with local health officials and the Mayor's office, which advised that we could proceed as planned," DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement. "Nevertheless, our number one priority has and will continue to be the safety of our staff, campaigns, Arizonans and all those involved in the debate. We will continue to remain in daily contact with all stakeholders through Sunday."