WHITE HOUSE – U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden each said Tuesday they are looking forward to their second debate next week, but the issue of Trump’s coronavirus infection has raised questions about health protocols for the event.
When asked about the safety of participating in the debate, Biden told reporters that he hopes “all the protocols are followed,” and that “if he still has COVID, we shouldn’t have a debate.”
Biden said he will be led by Cleveland Clinic guidelines and the advice of doctors.
“I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami,” said Trump on Twitter. “It will be great!”
Trump first tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday and was hospitalized for 72 hours between Friday evening and Monday. Based on that timeline, His attendance at the event, during which they are to answer questions from voters, could pose a public health risk, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which considers someone infected with the virus to be contagious 10 to 20 days from the onset of symptoms.
The Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit group sponsoring the debates, has not yet commented on this matter.
Trump and Biden were about 4 meters apart on a debate stage last Tuesday in Cleveland, Ohio. The CDC suggests at least 2 meters for social distancing purposes.
Trump arrived back at the White House Monday evening. His personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said in a statement Tuesday that the president had a “restful first night at home, and today, he reports no symptoms.”
The White House is “taking every precaution necessary” to protect not just Trump and first lady Melania Trump, who also tested positive for the coronavirus, but “every staff member working on the complex” consistent with CDC guidelines and best practices, according to Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.
“With the recent positive results of the President and First Lady, staff wear full PPE and continue to take all necessary precautions, which include updated procedures to protect against cross contamination,” according to a Tuesday White House statement.
Several White House officials and other staff are known to be currently infected with the virus, including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and presidential adviser Hope Hicks.
The president has been taking a steroid, dexamethasone, which is typically not administered in mild or moderate cases of the coronavirus, along with a five-day course of remdesivir, an antiviral medication.
Trump’s campaign on Friday put a hold on all previously announced events involving the president’s participation.
Vice President Mike Pence is making campaign appearances this week, as well as facing off Wednesday evening against Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee.
The coronavirus has killed 210,000 people in the United States and infected nearly 7.5 million across the country, according to Johns Hopkins University data. – VOA News