Wisconsin Center prepares for DNC, releases COVID-19 protocol

The+Wisconsin+Center+is+the+2020+Democratic+National+Convention+site.

Photo by Zach Bukowski

The Wisconsin Center is the 2020 Democratic National Convention site.

Despite the rampant spread of the coronavirus, the 2020 Democratic National Convention is still set for Milwaukee — but the Democratic National Convention Committee has collaborated with the Milwaukee Host Committee to add safety protocols for those attending the in-person event. If guests, law enforcement, media and staff fail to abide by these protocols, they will be denied access to the convention site.

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved with the convention is our top priority,” DNCC press secretary Tim Carroll said in an email. “After consultation with public health officials, the DNCC will implement robust health and safety protocols that will govern the convention’s in-person activities and keep attendees safe before and during the convention.”

The DNCC first announced changes June 24 — that the convention would be shortened, mostly virtual and moved from Fiserv Forum to the Wisconsin Center, a smaller venue to accommodate the scale-backed event. Instead of taking place on the original dates of  July 13-16, the convention will now be aired from 9:00-11:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Aug. 17-20.

Former Vice President Joe Biden intends to accept the Democratic nomination and the DNCC will provide the details on the speaking portion closer to the convention date.

“As the country faces unprecedented challenges, Democrats are demonstrating the smart and steady leadership America deserves by transforming our plans to launch our nominee on a path to victory while also protecting public health,” Carroll said.

Prior to being credentialed for the event, there are a list of protocols for participants to abide by, including registering through the DNCC’s registration portal, receiving testing for COVID-19 before traveling to Milwaukee, self-quarantining for at least 72 hours before arriving, wearing personal protective equipment, daily COVID-19 testing, symptom tracking through a daily questionnaire, avoiding bars and restaurants and also following the Center for Disease Control’s social distancing guidelines.

Leading up to the Convention, the Marquette University released a statement Aug. 4 with changes regarding campus security, resident halls and safety procedures.

Even though the numbers of visitors — both delegates and attendees — will be reduced, the statement said that reports indicate protestors are going to travel to Milwaukee. Because of the reported protests, all buildings on campus besides the Alumni Memorial Union will be locked and require MUID access to enter from Aug. 10-21. All employees and students who can work remotely are asked to during the week of Aug. 17 to decrease the number of people on campus. Any employee or student on campus will have to display their MUIDs.

Marquette Today, along with the text and email safety alert system, will be used to alert the MU community about any changes to “traffic patterns or other areas around campus related to the convention” and active threats to campus.

According to the press release, about one third of MU’s residence hall rooms “will be occupied by convention-related guests” and there will be a limit to one occupant per room. The rooms have been sanitized and deep-cleaned and will be disinfected and deep cleaned once again when guests leave.

Due to social distancing and deep cleaning prior to move in, the university is “not accepting any further room or event reservations related to the convention.” The revenue gained from guests in the residence halls will go toward Marquette’s “greatest need — student scholarships.”

For guests on campus, each entity will administer daily temperature checks. Any guest who tests positive for COVID-19 or exhibits symptoms must immediately leave campus to quarantine off-site. Guests are also required to wear a face mask in public spaces and are expected to social distance.

The DNCC said there will be a health and safety zone established at the convention site, as well as within the Wisconsin Center District. This zone will be comprised of the entire Wisconsin Center building and the workspace set by the Secret Service. According to the protocols, media who work on the outdoor standup positions will not have daily testing, but “will be expected to follow all other protocols.”

Daily COVID-19 testing will occur through the convention testing system. A medical professional will administer an anterior nares swab, or a swab test of the nose through the nostrils, at a testing site — within the health and safety zone — and also at a testing site offsite, which will be accessible without the credential. The test must be administered through the convention testing system to be valid, as “test results via other providers will not be accepted.”

Any attendees will release their COVID-19 test results to both the DNCC and Milwaukee Health Department.

Carroll said the DNCC cannot confirm how many people will be traveling to Milwaukee for the convention, but that they will “collaborate with local, state and federal public health officials on efforts to develop measures that protect the health and safety of convention staff, attendees, and the people of Wisconsin.”

In terms of sanitation, the DNCC said all cleaning and sanitation products will “meet or exceed EPA guidelines for COVID-19 and are approved for use and effective against viruses, bacteria and other airborne and bloodborne pathogens.”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump announced July 23 that the Republican Party decided to cancel Republican National Convention activities, which were originally set for Jacksonville, Florida. However, he will still have smaller events and will accept his nomination in Charlotte, North Carolina.

With health and safety at the top of everyone’s minds, DNC plans may evolve due to the ongoing pandemic.

“We will continue to work with local law enforcement officials, in coordination with the Secret Service, to ensure that the 2020 Democratic National Convention is a safe and secure event for Milwaukee residents and everyone involved with our convention,” Carroll said.

This story was written by Zoe Comerford. She can be reached at isabel.comerford@marquette.edu or on Twitter @zoe_comerford