Biden campaign finds 3rd virus link as Harris suspends travel
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — At least three people connected to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign have tested positive for the coronavirus, leading the campaign to suspend in-person events for vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris through Monday.
Biden is not altering his public schedule, his campaign said Thursday, because he had no direct exposure to the individuals who tested positive, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s the Biden campaign’s first major coronavirus scare, after months of safety precautions that drew mockery from President Donald Trump, even after he, first lady Melania Trump and others contracted the virus themselves. The Democratic campaign’s cautious reaction underscores the differences in how the rival camps have approached the pandemic, both in terms of preferred government response and in the candidates’ personal protocols.
Biden’s campaign announced two positive cases Thursday morning, identifying Harris’ communications director Liz Allen and an unnamed member of the flight crew for one of Harris’ recent campaign trips. The campaign announced a third case Thursday afternoon as part of its contact tracing efforts from the first two cases.
The third individual is an aviation company employee who was on Biden’s plane for trips to Ohio and Florida earlier this week but who entered the back of the plane and sat far away from Biden, according to the campaign.
Harris and Biden, meanwhile, spent several hours campaigning together in Arizona on Oct. 8, when the first two people who tested positive were on a flight with Harris. Both candidates have tested negative for the coronavirus multiple times since then, including on Thursday. Everyone on the Biden campaign plane is required to wear a mask.
Trump, speaking without a mask at a crowded outdoor rally in North Carolina on Thursday afternoon, offered his best wishes to Harris and reiterated his skepticism of wearing masks.
“We worry about her. I’m very concerned about her,” he said, later adding: “Masks, no masks, everything, you can do all you want, but you know, you still need help.”
The travel suspension interrupts the Biden campaign’s aggressive push across a wide battleground map, including North Carolina and Ohio, with less than three weeks to go until Election Day.
Harris was set to encourage early voting Thursday in North Carolina. Her Friday trip to Cleveland would have been her first to Ohio as the vice presidential nominee and would have taken her into the metropolitan area with the state’s largest concentration of Black voters.
15 PHOTOSSen. Kamala HarrisSee GallerySen. Kamala HarrisUNITED STATES – MAY 22: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., makes her way to the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on May 22, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) arrives for a town hall meeting in Sacramento, California, U.S., April 5, 2018.REUTERS/Bob StrongWASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 14:Senate Judiciary Committee members Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (L) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) talk during a hearing about the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 14, 2018 in Washington, DC. Federal Bureau of Investigation Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich testified that the FBI could have and should have done more to stop the school shooter Nikolas Cruz after it receieved several tips about him.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) holds a town hall meeting in Sacramento, California, U.S., April 5, 2018.REUTERS/Bob StrongSenator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks about the Senate Intelligence Committee findings and recommendations on threats to election infrastructure on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua RobertsCalifornia gubernatorial candidate, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom arrives with Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) at a campaign rally in Burbank, California, U.S. May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy NicholsonWASHINGTON, DC – MAY 23:U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (2nd L) shares a moment with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) (R) as Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) (L) looks on during a news conference on immigration in front of the U.S. Capitol May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. Sen. Harris, joined by other female Democratic congressional members, held a news conference ‘to show support for immigration and refugee policies that protect the rights and safety of women and children.’ (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 23:U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (C) speaks during a news conference on immigration in front of the U.S. Capitol May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. Sen. Harris, joined by other female Democratic congressional members, held a news conference ‘to show support for immigration and refugee policies that protect the rights and safety of women and children.'(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)US Senator Kamala Harris attends the United State of Women Summit at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, on May 5, 2018. (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS / AFP)(Photo credit should read CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 14:Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) questions witnesses during a hearing about the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 14, 2018 in Washington, DC. Federal Bureau of Investigation Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich testified that the FBI could have and should have done more to stop the school shooter Nikolas Cruz after it receieved several tips about him.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 25:Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a news conference with fellow Democrats, ‘Dreamers’ and university presidents and chancellors to call for passage of the Dream Act at the U.S. Capitol October 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump said he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and has asked Congress to find a solution for the status of the beneficiaries of the program, called ‘Dreamers.'(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 18:Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) walks to the Senate chamber for a series of 6 roll call votes regarding the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution on Capitol Hill, on October 18, 2017 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 13:Senate Intelligence Committee members Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (C) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (R) arrive for a closed-door committee meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Some members of the committee have demanded that Donald Trump, Jr. testify before the intelligence committee after it was revealed that he and Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer in hopes of getting opposition information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 27: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)(L) walks with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (C), to a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence closed door meeting at the U.S. Capitol, on April 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.The committee is investigation possible Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 16:Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) heads for her party’s weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol May 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Many Republican and Democratic senators expressed frustration and concern about how President Donald Trump may have shared classified intelligence with the Russian foreign minister last week at the White House.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Up Next
Harris will continue virtual campaigning, including fundraisers previously scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The senator’s brief hiatus from the trail comes as Trump ramps up his own travel after he, the first lady, his campaign manager and several White House staffers contracted the virus.
Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon told reporters Thursday morning that under CDC guidelines, there was no need for the candidates to quarantine, although she said Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, would suspend travel for several days “out of an abundance of caution.”
“Neither of these individuals had any contact with Vice President Biden, with Sen. Harris or any other staff member since testing positive or in the 48-hour period prior to their positive test results,” O’Malley Dillon said.
Harris followed up in a statement saying she’d be “transparent with you about any test results that I do receive. In the meantime, remember: wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands regularly. It is possible to stop the spread.”
O’Malley Dillon announced the third case late Thursday afternoon. She said Biden’s medical advisers recommended against a quarantine because of the distance between Biden and the third individual who tested positive.
Harris and Biden spent several hours together on Oct. 8 through multiple campaign stops, private meetings and a joint appearance in front of reporters at an airport. They were masked at all times in public, and aides said they were masked in private, as well, including on all flights.
Biden will attend an ABC News town hall on Thursday airing live at 8 p.m. EDT, and he will proceed with his planned travel Friday and through the weekend.
O’Malley Dillon said all campaign staff members on the Oct. 8 flight have been tested at least twice since then. All tests have been negative, she said.
The campaign became aware of the first two positive tests Wednesday night, O’Malley Dillon said. Harris had opted earlier this week to attend virtually — rather than in person — the Senate Judiciary Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, after some of her GOP Senate colleagues tested positive for the coronavirus or disclosed their exposure to others who had tested positive.
Biden’s campaign has taken the coronavirus seriously, drawing mockery from Trump and Republicans, even as the White House deals with the fallout of its virus outbreak.
The Democratic ticket’s campaign events are socially distanced and require participants to wear masks. Staff often set chairs inside white plastic circles to denote 6 feet (1.8 meters) of distance. During a recent indoor speech at a North Carolina event for Harris, reporters were given and asked to wear KN95 masks.
Biden and Harris typically keep their masks on when speaking indoors. Both travel on planes with a small number of staff and Secret Service. For Harris’ travel, a second plane carries the rest of the staff. For Biden, a second plane carries the traveling press corps.
Associated Press reporters Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, Calif., Alexandra Jaffe in Washington and Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
Source: Read Full Article