By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
The coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to adapt to its agenda. Since quarantine began, organizations began cancelling and rescheduling events. Summerfest was pushed back to September, the Milwaukee Public Library went virtual, even the Tokyo Olympics were cancelled, it was only a matter of time before the Democratic National Convention followed suit.
Earlier this week, the Democratic National Convention Committee released a statement regarding its plans in light of COVID-19. The committee decided that for the safety of all those involved, the convention would be pushed back to the week of Aug. 17.
Originally, the convention was set to take place in mid-July. While the date is changing, the location is not. As of right now, the DNC is still set to take place in Milwaukee at the Fiserv Forum.
According to the press release, the planning team will now be using the upcoming weeks to look at the convention’s options in regard to safety and health.
“I have always believed that American innovation and ingenuity shine brightest during our darkest days, and for that reason, I’m confident our convention planning team and our partners will find a way to deliver a convention in Milwaukee this summer that places our Democratic nominee on the path to victory in November,” said Joe Solmonese, CEO of the DNC committee, in the press release.
Mayor Tom Barrett held a virtual press conference in response to the DNC’s decision to push back the date.
“I consider this extremely good news,” Barrett said. “I think we all recognized that increasingly it looked more and more difficult for us to host this convention.”
Barrett said throughout his conversation with committee leaders and Chairman Tom Perez one aspect remained clear: the DNC committee is committed to nominating the presidential nominee in Milwaukee.
He said that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on Milwaukee’s economy, especially for small business owners. Barrett said he hopes the convention in August will help rectify the situation.
Given the situation, the DNC committee is working with hotels, the Fiserv Forum and the Wisconsin Center District to make sure the availability is there. Barrett said he believes the hotels will most likely be very accommodating as people’s travels plans across the globe have changed.
“This is a new world we’re living in,” he said, adding that while it will be a lot of work Milwaukee has already proven that it can handle the DNC.
Some things such as security plans and traffic pattern plans are already in the works and will continue to move forward, he said. However, he noted that no one can predict what impact the DNC will have on Milwaukee in the wake of COVID-19 in terms of visitors. He added that the changes will take a toll on the budget, but there is a fundraising team dedicated to alleviating the cost.
Barrett stressed that the focus remains on the public health crisis that is coronavirus, but that the DNC has not been forgotten.
“This is really good news at a time when we need some really good news,” Barrett said. “And I know this isn’t on the front burner and it shouldn’t be, but let’s hope by August life is back to normal.”