DNC gives first look inside Wisconsin Center control room, stage ahead of convention

NOW: DNC gives first look inside Wisconsin Center control room, stage ahead of convention

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Downtown Milwaukee is finally beginning to look like the Democratic National Convention is happening here this week.

The security perimeter was put up this weekend around the Wisconsin Center, closing off parts of nearby streets. On Sunday, Aug. 16, DNC staff gave CBS 58 a first look inside the building that is the center of all the virtual action this week.

The control room on the third floor of the Wisconsin Center is complete with monitors, TVs, and dozens of DNC staff members spread more than six feet apart. They say they are ready to take in live feeds from across the country.

"(The control room) is the technical backbone for how millions of Americans across the country and right here in Milwaukee will be able to view our convention, and the hundreds of speakers and talent performances and exciting moments that will be a part of that," said Jessica Jennings, director of media logistics and production operations for the DNC. 

The stage on the second floor of the Wisconsin Center is where live speakers will address the nation every night of the convention. Those speakers include: Congresswoman Gwen Moore, convention co-chair and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, convention secretary Jason Rae, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Gov. Tony Evers and Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will accept the party's nomination from Delaware and will not be appearing in person in Milwaukee.

"When we gave the guidance to speakers not to travel, it was out of an abundance of caution and listening to health experts as we have over the last couple of months," said Ofirah Yheskel, press secretary for the DNCC.

The DNC is requiring all staff and even members of the media to take a daily COVID-19 test and temperature check before coming inside the Wisconsin Center. They also have to answer a series of questions every day, such as whether they have any virus symptoms and whether they pledge not to go to bars and restaurants.

"We asked everyone to avoid spaces where they couldn't physically distance, and so that is what we are asking people to do to make sure that we keep this area as safe as possible," Jennings said.

Although a mostly virtual DNC is a first, Jennings said there are two main reasons that convention staff members believe it is important to maintain a strong presence in Milwaukee.

"First, we made a commitment to the city of Milwaukee, and it was really important for us to stay here. Second, when the pandemic hit, a lot of our plans were already underway, and so to make sure that we had time to pivot and get everything reconfigured in the way that it would need to be, we needed to stay right here in Milwaukee for that," she said.

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