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Phoenix Democratic debate between Biden, Sanders moved to DC due to coronavirus concerns

The debate was supposed to take place in Phoenix two days before Arizona's Democratic Primary on March 17.
Credit: AP
Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, and former Vice President Joe Biden gesture during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)

PHOENIX — Two days after announcing the Phoenix Democratic Debate would go on without an audience in attendance, the debate will no longer happen in Phoenix due to COVID-19 concerns.

The debate will be moved to Washington D.C. according to CNN

The debate between Democratic front-runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders was supposed to take place March 15 at Arizona Federal Theatre, formerly known as Comerica Theatre.  

Additionally, Biden had been scheduled to attend a Phoenix fundraiser Saturday evening, the night before the debate. 12 News has learned the fund-raiser was cancelled because of coronavirus fears. 

The full statement from the DNC on the debate is below:

“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.

“In addition, the DNC, CNN and Univision recently learned that Univision anchor and moderator Jorge Ramos was in proximity with someone who was in direct contact with a person that tested positive for coronavirus. Both Mr. Ramos and the person he was in contact with are in good health and symptom free. 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. Univision’s News Anchor Ilia Calderón will moderate the debate in his place.

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

RELATED: Arizona election officials take coronavirus precautions as presidential primary nears

Arizona's Democratic Primary takes place Tuesday March 17.

According to a statement from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, counties throughout the state will allow curbside voting for those who need it. Facilities will be fully cleaned and disinfected where voting takes place. And staff will advise people to avoid crowds on Election Day unless they are voting.  

Some polling places have even been moved. The Associated Press reported five Phoenix-area polling places have been moved because of the coronavirus. The polling places will be moved from senior living centers to other locations to protect elderly residents, who experts say are the most vulnerable to the virus. 

More than 3,100 voters were mailed postcards with their new polling location information in Maricopa County.

RELATED: What's next for Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders after Tuesday's primaries

The cancellation of the debate comes a day after President Trump addressed the nation, announcing a sharp restriction of travel from Europe to the U.S. 

Also Wednesday, the NBA suspended league play after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus prior to a game. On Thursday morning, it was announced a second player on the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for coronavirus. 

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