Biden routs Sanders in Florida and Illinois primaries

Amid growing restrictions over the global coronavirus outbreak, Joe Biden racked up primary wins over Bernie Sanders in Florida and Illinois on Tuesday, making his delegate lead for the Democratic presidential nomination all but insurmountable before the party’s scheduled convention in July.

As polls closed at 8 p.m. ET in Florida, Biden was declared the winner by the Associated Press. Ahead by nearly 40 points with 77 percent of the votes counted in a state that awards 219 delegates proportionally, Biden was sure to pad his overall delegate lead over Sanders.

Biden was declared the winner in Illinois, a state that awards 101 delegates, thirty minutes later.

Biden was also expected to win handily in Arizona, where polls close at 11 p.m. ET, and he leads in polls by double-digits.

As Biden continued his march toward the Democratic nomination, Donald Trump won enough delegates in the Illinois Republican primary to secure the GOP presidential nomination, the AP projected.

Rather than give a speech about the election results, Sanders held a livestream on the coronavirus outbreak before polls in Florida and Illinois had closed. He detailed proposals — including mobilizing the U.S. Army and National Guard to construct makeshift hospitals and providing funds for workers who lose their employment — for what he said would need to be a massive government effort to counter the pandemic and its economic fallout.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, greet one another before they participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former Vice President Joe Biden, center, stops to talk with CNN anchor Dana Bash, left, as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, waves after they participated in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, is escorted off stage during a commercial break at the Democratic presidential primary debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, left, at CNN Studios in Washington, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former Vice President Joe Biden, center, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., far right, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, Sunday, March 15, 2020. Looking on are from far left, Ilia Calderon, from Univision, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, both from CNN. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has his microphone adjusted as he participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, and former Vice President Joe Biden, left, return to the stage after a commercial break in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former Vice President Joe Biden, participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, walks to the back of the stage during a commercial break as he participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, left, at CNN Studios, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, waitt on stage to participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, extends his elbow to greet Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, as they participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 15: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus crisis on a live broadcast, in a nearly empty restaurant/bar during the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate on March 15, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The debate featured Biden and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in a CNN television studio without an audience in the wake of the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential hopeful former US vice president Joe Biden talks with moderators (L-R) Univision’s journalist Ilia Calderon, CNN chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper and CNN political correspondent Dana Bash at the end of the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential hopeful former US vice president Joe Biden is seen on stage as he and Senator Bernie Sanders take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders makes a point as he and former US vice president Joe Biden take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 15: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speak about the coronavirus crisis on a live broadcast, in a nearly empty restaurant/bar during the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate on March 15, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The debate was held in a CNN television studio without an audience for safety reasons in the wake of the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders participates in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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“This will require an unprecedented amount of money, and my own guess is that we’ll be spending at least $ 2 trillion in funding to prevent deaths, job losses and to avoid an economic catastrophe,” Sanders said.

Sanders said he would introduce his suggestions to Democratic leadership in the coming days and directed his viewers to read about them further at his website. Not once during his remarks did Sanders mention Tuesday’s primaries or the state of the Democratic presidential race.

“We can address this crisis and we can minimize the pain,” Sanders said.

Thanks to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, Ohio postponed its elections until June 2, and cast a shadow of uncertainty over the status of future in-person primary voting. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who has taken the lead on school closures and social distancing measures, announced Monday that he was recommending that Ohio delay in-person voting in the primary.

“We cannot conduct this election tomorrow,” DeWine announced Monday.

As of Tuesday morning, Ohio had reported 67 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the formal name of the coronavirus. Florida had reported 160 cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, and four deaths. Illinois had tallied 105 cases and Arizona had reported another 18. The rapid rise in the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. has mirrored the curve witnessed in Italy, where more than 27,980 cases have been confirmed and 2,158 people have died from COVID-19.

Hours before residents in Illinois, Florida and Arizona headed to the polls despite guidance form the CDC to avoid gatherings of 10 people or more, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said he was leaving the decision on whether to postpone elections up to the state governors.

“Republican and Democratic governors have made that judgement that they can do that. I don’t think it’s for me to second-guess those judgements,” Perez said in an interview with MSNBC.

But two DNC co-chairs sent a memo last week warning that states faced the prospect of penalties for pushing back primaries beyond June 9.

“If a state violates the rule on timing, or any other rule, they could be subject to penalties as prescribed in Rule 21, including at least a 50% reduction in delegates, which will need to be reviewed by the RBC [Rules and Bylaws Committee],” the memo, which was obtained by The Guardian, stated.

So far, Louisiana is the only state that may run afoul of the DNC, having postponed its April 4 primary until June 20. Georgia, which was originally scheduled to hold its primary on March 24, has suspended its elections until May 19.

While Perez urged voters to “stay safe” Tuesday, he did not discourage them from showing up at polling places. At the same time, however, he said the coronavirus outbreak showed that the nation needed to figure out ways to make sure citizens could cast their votes without heading to polling places.

Puerto Rico is scheduled to hold the next Democratic primary on March 29. On April 4, Hawaii, Alaska and Wyoming are scheduled to have their primaries.

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