Univision’s Jorge Ramos has backed out of his planned role as one of the moderators of Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate because of possible exposure to the coronavirus, and the event itself has been moved from Phoenix to CNN’s studios in Washington, D.C., the network said on Thursday.
Sunday’s presidential debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders already had changed considerably over fears of the spread of the virus. Plans for a studio audience, a spin room and a press filing center were dropped for the Phoenix event.
Ramos has not shown any symptoms and has been cleared by medical professionals, but decided to step aside “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a Democratic National Committee spokesperson. The person he was in contact with also is symptom free. Univision’s Illa Calderon will take Ramos’ place alongside Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.
The DNC said that the move to Washington was made out of concern over large numbers of people traveling to the event. WarnerMedia and CNN already had placed restrictions on non-essential employee travel and asked that those involved in the production of major events be limited to those who needed to be there.
The event will be the first sole matchup of Biden and Sanders on a debate stage, but sans a large field of candidates, an audience or a big venue, it will likely have more of the feel of a regular network talk show.