Joe Biden said on Tuesday that the next presidential debate should be called off if President Donald Trump is still positive for Covid-19.
“I think if he still has Covid, we shouldn’t have a debate,” Biden told reporters, according to a press pool report. “We’re going to have to follow very strict guidelines. Too many people have been infected. It’s a very serious problem.”
Biden said he still looked forward to facing off against the president at the next debate, which is scheduled for Oct. 15, but that “I don’t know what his status is” since the president tested positive last week. Biden added that he would follow the guidelines set forth by the Cleveland Clinic, which is advising the Commission on Presidential Debates on health concerns.
“I just hope all the protocols are followed,” Biden told reporters.
The Trump campaign in turn rebuffed any suggestion of delaying the debate.
“President Trump will be healthy and will be there,” campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement to POLITICO. “There’s no getting out of this one for Biden and his protectors in the media can’t cover for him.”
Trump was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday, hours after announcing that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Though the White House revealed worrying signs about his condition, Trump returned to his residence on Monday evening.
The next presidential debate is scheduled for next week in Miami. If the president remains contagious, traveling to the debate site would drastically increase the risk of further contagion. More than 30 people in Trump’s inner circle have already tested positive for the virus.
Trump and Biden debated last Tuesday, with their lecterns spaced about 7 feet apart. The two candidates and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News did not wear masks, but others in the debate venue were required to. Still, several members of Trump’s family removed their masks after taking their seats.
Biden and Wallace have since said they have so far tested negative for the virus.
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