COVID-19 switches presidential debate schedule: Notre Dame, Michigan out; Cleveland, Miami in

By: - July 29, 2020 1:37 pm

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Credit: Wikipedia

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an ever-changing presidential debate schedule for the fall, with venues switched for the second time this summer.

The University of Notre Dame was scheduled to host the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, pitting President Donald Trump against the Democratic nominee, presumably Joe Biden.

But the private Catholic university in Indiana this week bowed out, saying in a news release that “the necessary health precautions would have greatly diminished the educational value of hosting the debate on our campus.”

Cleveland will become the new venue for the first presidential debate, co-hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, according to The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).

The commission said in a statement that “This will be the second CPD-sponsored debate hosted by Case Western Reserve University. In 2004, the university was the site of the Vice Presidential debate.”

In addition, “Cleveland Clinic will serve as Health Security Advisor to the CPD for all four 2020 general election debates,” the commission stated.

The switch for the first debate comes closely after a change in venue for the second presidential debate.

In late June, the University of Michigan withdrew from hosting the second presidential debate on Oct. 15. The university president said in a news release that, ““Given the scale and complexity of the work we are undertaking to help assure a safe and healthy fall for our students, faculty and staff and limited visitors — and in consideration of the public health guidelines in our state as well as advice from our own experts — we feel it is not feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate as planned.”

That led Florida to host the venue for the second debate in Miami. It will be at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.

The performing arts center’s website says there’s a “great deal of excitement about this historic and high-profile event happening in Miami and at the Arsht Center. Due to health and safety protocols, ticketing will be extremely limited.”

Miami-Dade has had the largest numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Florida, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.

The third presidential debate is scheduled Oct. 22, at Belmont University, a private Christian university in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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