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Details Still Unclear About How Cleveland Will Safely Host Debate

Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University officials are preparing to host the first presidential debate of 2020 on September 29.

During a global pandemic, those preparations mean preventing the spread of COVID-19, but details of how they will do that remain unclear.

Safety is a priority when deciding the details of the debate, the Clinic's Dr. James Merlino said.

"We've been working with the Commission on Presidential Debates now for several weeks, working through what we think are the right tactics to put in place and how they would apply to the different debate sites, so it's still very preliminary at this point,” Dr. Merlino said.

The Clinic was partnering with the debate commission to make sure the presidential debate is safe, even before the location change was announced on Monday.

The debate location was moved after Notre Dame University decided it was too risky to host it on the South Bend, Indiana campus during the pandemic. The debate will now be held in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion, a part of CWRU and the Clinic's joint health education campus.

But CWRU Provost Ben Vinson said the Cleveland location will be better because it will be on the health education campus, which is closer to the hospital and farther away from the students on the main campus.

“The level of contact is very different than what would have transpired at Notre Dame,” Vinson said.

Clinic officials said no decision has been made on whether there will be an audience at the event.

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