Notre Dame withdraws from holding first presidential debate due to COVID-19 concerns

Notre Dame withdraws from holding first presidential debate due to COVID-19 concerns

On Monday, the University of Notre Dame announced it would no longer host the first presidential debate due to COVID-19 concerns.

Notre Dame President Rev. Jenkins stated in the announcement that “this difficult decision” was made “because the necessary health precautions would have greatly diminished the educational value of hosting the debate on our campus."

He thanked those who had been involved with organising the debate, saying “I am grateful to the many members of the University community who have devoted countless hours planning this event, and to the Commission on Presidential Debates leadership for their professionalism and understanding."

However, Jenkins indicated that, “the inevitable reduction in student attendance in the debate hall, volunteer opportunities and ancillary educational events” due to COVID-19 social distancing protocols “undermined the primary benefit of hosting – to provide our students with a meaningful opportunity to engage in the American political process.”

Debate will be held at new venue

The debate, which is set to take place on September 29, will now be held at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland.

In addition to CWRU, the debate will be co-hosted by Cleveland Clinic at the Health Education Campus.

The clinic is the Health Security Adviser to the Commission on Presidential debates.

“We are honored to host this presidential debate at our shared Health Education Campus,” Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic and Case Western Reserve University President Barbara R. Snyder stated in the joint announcement.

“This pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of healthcare and scientific discovery in unprecedented ways. To have the presidential candidates discuss these issues in our innovative learning space represents a tremendous opportunity for both institutions – and our entire region,” elaborated the statement.

The event will be held with certain “risk-mitigation procedures” such as distanced seats and the provision of disinfectant measures.

However the statement added that the “precise nature of those plans – including whether an audience is present – will depend on the status of the pandemic as the event draws closer.”

This turn of events marks the second time the venue of a presidential debate has been changed due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns.

Last month, the second presidential debate was moved to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, after it was originally set to be held at the University of Michigan. The debate will occur on October 15.

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