Biden Campaign To Hold 'Virtual Events' In Lieu of Large-Scale Rallies Due to Coronavirus

Former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign announced Wednesday that some upcoming political rallies have been changed from being large gatherings to "virtual events" due to the possible spread of coronavirus. Biden's scheduled rallies in Illinois and Florida will be reconfigured to fit the new format.

"The health and safety of the public is our number one priority," read a statement from the campaign. "We have been and will continue to consult with relevant officials, including our recently announced Public Health Advisory Committee, regarding steps the campaign should take to minimize health risks for staff and supporters."

"As a result of those conversations and at the request of elected officials in Illinois and Florida, we will no longer hold large crowd events on Friday and Monday in those states," the statement continued. "Tomorrow, Vice President Biden will deliver remarks on the coronavirus pandemic, Friday's and Monday's events will become virtual events."

Both Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders canceled rallies in Cleveland, Ohio Tuesday in an attempt to keep the community spread of coronavirus to a minimum.

"We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials, who have communicated concern about holding large, indoor events during the coronavirus outbreak," said the Sanders campaign in a Tuesday statement.

Biden's campaign echoed similar statements, saying it was canceling the Ohio rally "with guidance from public officials and out of an abundance of caution."

Newsweek reached out to both the Biden and Sanders campaign for comment but did not receive responses in time for publication.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign announced Wednesday that it will reformat some upcoming political rallies into "virtual events." Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Illinois reported 25 documented cases of coronavirus Wednesday with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot postponing the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade. Illinois has also delayed the next session of the General Assembly until later in March.

Florida has reported 28 confirmed cases of the virus, including two deaths attributable to the infection. Governor Ron DeSantis announced an executive order Wednesday that would restrict visits by symptomatic individuals to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Both Biden and Sanders have been critical of the White House's attempts to contain the U.S. outbreak of coronavirus with both candidates casting aspersions on President Donald Trump's leadership during the crisis.

"I think if the president were to just get out of the way, let the experts at CDC and others handle this, speak to it, talk about what needs to be done, we'd all be better off," Biden said during an interview Monday on MSNBC.

Sanders also expressed disapproval of the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus during a Fox News town hall meeting on Monday.

"How can we trust this administration dealing with an international health care crisis when you appoint Vice President Pence, an individual who also doesn't much believe in science?" Sanders asked. "What you're telling the whole world is that we're politicizing this issue rather than dealing with it from a data, research, scientific basis."

While Trump does list the launch of the Catholics for Trump coalition in Wisconsin this March as his next publicly scheduled event, the creation of larger campaign rallies will be "made literally on a day-to-day basis," according to Pence.

"I'm very confident that the campaign will take the very best information and make the very best decision going forward," Pence said at Tuesday's coronavirus task force press briefing.