Biden: US Democratic convention may be 'virtual' due to virus

Former US vice president and White House hopeful Joe Biden has denied Tara Reade's allegation of sexual assault (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Washington (AFP) - White House hopeful Joe Biden said Sunday he would wear a mask in public amid the coronavirus pandemic and that the Democratic Party's presidential nominating convention might need to be "virtual" to avoid spreading disease.

The former vice president told ABC that the Democratic National Convention, already delayed by five weeks, is a requirement to formally nominate the candidate who challenges Trump in November's election.

But he conceded the affair, featuring thousands of party grandees, may need to be held online should coronavirus remain a threat to public health into mid-August, the new convention date.

"We're going to have to do a convention. We may have to do a virtual convention," Biden said on the ABC talk show "This Week."

"We may not be able to put 10, 20, 30,000 people in one place" if the coronavirus outbreaks have not been tamped down, he said.

"Let's see where it is -- and what we do between now and then is going to dictate a lot of that as well."

Biden, 77, is the party's all-but-certain nominee, and the convention, originally scheduled for mid-July, was delayed shortly after he publicly suggested it.

His remaining nomination rival Bernie Sanders has declined to concede, and the two square off in the Wisconsin primary that remains scheduled for Tuesday despite legal challenges and warnings about public health.

Both candidates are hunkered down in their homes and broadcasting from makeshift studios rather than conducting what would typically be intense on-the-ground campaigning.

Biden, when asked, said he would heed the advice of US health officials and wear a mask if he went out in public amid the pandemic.

"Yes. Look, I think it's important to follow the science, listen to the experts, do what they tell you," Biden said.

Trump has said he will not wear facial protection, defying his own administration's advice.

"He may not like how he looks in a mask," Biden added, "but the truth of the matter is, follow the science."

Trump has dominated the airwaves as he holds televised daily briefings in the White House, while Biden struggles to compete for attention.