After the COVID-19 outbreak, the White House has stepped up security precautions at the debate between vice-presidential candidates.
Vice President Mike Pence and Challenger Kamala Harris will be separated by a plexiglass barrier during Wednesday’s debate to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, the committee overseeing the event said.
The debate, the only one scheduled between the Vice presidential candidates, will be held in Salt Lake City, six days after President Donald Trump announced that he had contracted the virus.
Kamala Harris and Mike Pence tested negative for coronavirus: the US Vice President worked from home on weekends. Several White House staffers and prominent Republicans, including three US senators, have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Commission on presidential debates also stated that the candidates would be 3.7 m apart. The commission said there would be a limited number of guests at the debate, and all of them would be tested, and anyone who did not wear a mask would be “escorted out.”
During the first presidential debate between Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden last week, several members of the Trump family did not wear masks while sitting in the audience.
Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller said: “If Senator Harris wants to build a fortress around him, go ahead.”
In response, Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for Harris, wrote on Twitter: “It’s interesting that @VPComDir Katie Miller is mocking our desire to install a plexiglass barrier at a debate when her own boss is supposedly in charge of the COVID-19 working group and should be advocating for it.”
Miller herself became ill with COVID-19 in the spring.
On Monday, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the President intends to participate in the next presidential debate, scheduled for October 15 in Miami.
Biden said Monday that he is willing to participate in next week’s scheduled debate with Trump if health experts on COVID-19 believe it will be safe to do so.
The first of three scheduled debates took place last week, two days before Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.
“If scientists say it’s safe and distances are safe, then I think it’s OK. I will do what the experts think is right,” Biden said.
The normal quarantine period for anyone who tests positive for the new coronavirus is 14 days.
Trump has often downplayed the threat of the pandemic, which has now infected 7.4 million Americans and killed more than 209,000 people. Biden criticized Trump for not taking the pandemic seriously enough.