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University of Notre Dame drops out as host of first presidential debate, citing coronavirus

The event will now be jointly hosted in Ohio by Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic

Updated: July 28, 2020 - 10:58am

The first 2020 presidential election debate has shifted from Indiana to Ohio because the University of Notre Dame has withdrawn from serving as the venue due to coronavirus-related reasons.

Incumbent Republican Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden will now face off in the Buckeye State where the September 29 political spectacle will be jointly hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic at the institutions' Health Education Campus.

According to the University of Notre Dame, President Rev. John I. Jenkins, explained that the move to bow out comes "because the necessary health precautions would have greatly diminished the educational value of hosting the debate on our campus."

"In a letter earlier today to the Notre Dame community, Father Jenkins said that 'the inevitable reduction in student attendance in the debate hall, volunteer opportunities and ancillary educational events undermined the primary benefit of hosting — to provide our students with a meaningful opportunity to engage in the American political process,'" the university noted.

The Executive Committee of the University's Board of Trustees fully backed Jenkins move according to Notre Dame. 

“We are honored to host this presidential debate at our shared Health Education Campus,” Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic, M.D. and Case Western Reserve University President Barbara R. Snyder declared in a joint statement posted by Cleveland Clinic. “This pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of health care 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.”

According to Johns Hopkins University there have been more than 4.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and more than 147,000 deaths.