(Updates delegate counts)
By Ginger Gibson
WASHINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) - Former Vice President Joe Biden extended his lead in the delegate race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday with commanding wins in Florida and Illinois, two of three states to hold primaries as the country grappled with the coronavirus.
There are 441 delegates at stake from the contests in Florida, Illinois and Arizona. A string of earlier victories had put Biden ahead of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in the race to amass the minimum 1,991 delegates needed to secure the nomination and challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.
Ohio had also been scheduled to vote on Tuesday, but Governor Mike DeWine postponed his state’s primary until June 2 because of the growing coronavirus crisis.
Here is a quick look at Tuesday’s primaries:
Delegate Count: 219
Biden wins and will secure at least 72 delegates. Sanders will win at least 23 delegates.
With 93% of precincts reporting, Biden had won every county in the state. Sanders’ praise of literacy programs in Cuba under the nation’s Communist former leader, Fidel Castro, prompted widespread criticism of the senator in Florida, a state with a sizable Cuban-American population.
All polls closed at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT).
Delegate count: 155
Biden wins Illinois, picking up at least 34 delegates to Sanders’ 16.
With 41% of Illinois precincts reporting, Biden led Sanders by more than 20 percentage points. In 2016, Sanders lost the Illinois primary to Hillary Clinton, the party’s eventual nominee, by 2 percentage points.
Polls closed at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT).
Delegate count: 67
Sanders has done well in Western states so far this election, victories his supporters attribute to large support from Latinos. But even that may not be enough to give him a win in Arizona, where polling conducted this month found him trailing Biden by about 20 percentage points.
Polls closed at 10 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT Wednesday).
Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney