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Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris will be taking no chances when it comes to the coronavirus at the upcoming vice presidential debate.
In the wake of President Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis last week, and as Pence continues to test negative for the virus, new rules were laid out for Wednesday’s debate in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Commission on Presidential Debates approved the request for a Plexiglass barrier because of concerns over the contagious virus, Politico reported.
The acrylic barrier will reportedly separate Pence and the Democratic vice presidential nominee, but it will also act as a defense between the two candidates and moderator Susan Page. The Cleveland Clinic, which is assisting in setting up the health protection protocols for the debate, has reportedly backed the idea of using the Plexiglass as well.
The Harris camp reportedly gave a thumbs up to the barrier idea while Pence’s team was not initially in favor.
“If Sen. Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it,” Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller said, according to Politico.
Stage setup @UUtah for tomorrow’s Vice Presidential Debate between Vice President @Mike_Pence and Senator @KamalaHarris.
Watch #Debates LIVE at 9pm ET on C-SPAN https://t.co/zVeqzwhVsb pic.twitter.com/t7izCHGXZO
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 6, 2020
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison faced off in a South Carolina debate on Saturday on opposite sides of a similar acrylic barrier. While Harris, Pence and Page will not be wearing masks while on the debate stage, audience members are required to do so at Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah location.
Guidelines from Peter Eyre, senior adviser to the Commission, revel that anyone who does not comply with the mask order will be forced to leave the venue.
After objections from the Biden campaign about “health and safety” issues, the Commission on Presidential Debates agreed as well to keep the seats Pence and Harris will be using separated by 13 feet rather than the initial seven-foot social distancing used during last week’s presidential debate.
The small number of those who will be allowed to attend the only vice-presidential debate will reportedly have to have tested negative for the coronavirus before being allowed to enter.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden has tested negative for the virus after sharing a stage with Trump in their first presidential debate last Tuesday in Ohio. Several Trump administration staffers as well as lawmakers in Congress have received a positive diagnosis in recent days as the president himself was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland over the weekend for treatment.
Pence, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, chief of staff Mark Meadows, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of the Trump family – excluding first lady Melania Trump – all tested negative so far. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did receive a positive test as did former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who helped the president get ready for the debate. Sens. Mike Lee and Ron Johnson also reported positive test results as well as Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel.
The president’s recovery and the state of his health will determine the future debates between himself and Biden but Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told CNN that “it is the President’s intention to debate” on October 15.
Meanwhile, the Biden campaign said it expects “the commission and the Cleveland Clinic to ensure these debates happen safely and we fully intend on debating Donald Trump should the medical experts believe it can be done safely.”
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