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Joe Biden cancels Chicago rally and fundraisers in wake of coronavirus crisis

Biden planned fundraisers and a get-out-the-vote rally Friday in Chicago ahead of the Illinois primary.

Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden speaks, flanked by his wife Jill Biden, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 10, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden has canceled fundraisers and a rally in Chicago.
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In the wake of the spreading coronavirus crisis, former Vice President Joe Biden is canceling two fundraisers and a get-out-the-vote rally Friday in Chicago, four days before the Illinois primary March 17.

The Biden campaign said in a statement that 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.”

Biden was already scheduled to deliver remarks Thursday on the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus has growing political implications — from the inability of candidates to throw large rallies to policy. On Wednesday, the Biden campaign announced the creation of a Public Health Advisory Committee.

The campaign said “Friday’s and Monday’s events (in Chicago and Florida) will become virtual events, and the campaign will make announcements about additional details on the format and timing of the virtual events and on future events in the coming days.”

Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders pulled separate events in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday night after voting took place in six states, as concern grows about crowds and contagion.

Biden’s decision to fold his Chicago events came hours after Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the city will postpone weekend St. Patrick’s Day parades as a “precautionary measure.” The Illinois coronavirus cases now total 25, according to the governor.

The Biden campaign said in a statement about the new Public Health Advisory Committee, “As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, Biden for President today is announcing the formation of a Public Health Advisory Committee to provide science-based, expert advice regarding steps the campaign should take to minimize health risks for the candidate, staff, and supporters. The campaign’s top priority is and will continue to be the health and safety of the public. Members of the committee will provide ongoing counsel to the campaign, which will in turn continue to update the public regarding operational decisions.”

Members of the committee include Dr. Zeke Emanuel, the brother of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Members of Biden’s Public Health Advisory Committee:

  • Dr. Zeke Emanuel, vice provost of global initiatives and university professor, Perelman School of Medicine and The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania
  • Dr. Rebecca Katz, associate professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and co-director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University
  • Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and professor of epidemiology, biostatistics and pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco
  • Lisa Monaco, former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser to President Obama
  • Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th Surgeon General of the United States
  • Dr. Irwin Redlener, clinical professor, Columbia University Mailman Public School of Health