Politics

Joe Biden stays on road, but Kamala Harris suspends travel after 3 people linked to campaign trips test positive for coronavirus

Key Points
  • Three people who traveled on campaign flights with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Harris postponed travel for several days because of the Covid-19 diagnoses of two people who were on a flight with her. Biden will continue to travel, because the third infected person was never close to him on his plane.
  • President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and multiple other people connected to the Republican president and his campaign have tested positive for coronavirus in recent weeks.
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Two Biden-Harris campaign staffers test positive for Covid-19

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will keep traveling the campaign trail, but his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris will postpone travel for several days after three people who made trips on campaign planes tested positive for the coronavirus, Biden's team said Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, the Biden campaign said that two people had tested positive after flying on a plane with Harris, and that she would be suspending her trips until the end of this weekend.

On Thursday afternoon, the campaign said that as a result of contact tracing with one of those people, a crew member, it had learned that an administrative member of the aviation company which charters Biden's plane had also tested positive for Covid-19.

But the campaign said that Biden, who has tested negative for the virus, would not be going into quarantine because the former vice president had not been in close proximity to the third person.

That person was on Biden's plane for a trip to Ohio on Monday and the next day for a trip to Florida.

The unidentified person sat in the last row of the 737 aircraft, the campaign said. No campaign staffers were in close contact with that person, who wore a mask during their travel with Biden and his party. Biden and the people with him wore N95 masks during the flights, according to campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon.

"Vice President Biden was not in close contact, as defined by the [federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], with this individual at any time," Dillon said.

"In fact, the Vice President did not even have passing contact: this individual was over 50 feet from VP Biden at all times, entered and exited the aircraft from a rear entrance, and both the individual and the Vice President wore masks for the entire flight," Dillon said.

"Given these facts, we have been advised by the Vice President's doctor and the campaign's medical advisors that there is no need for the Vice President to quarantine."

The campaign earlier in the day said that it had learned late Wednesday that Liz Allen, Harris' communications director, and a "non-staff flight crew member" contracted Covid-19.

The campaign said that both of those people who tested positive were on a flight with Harris on Oct. 8, but she was not within 6 feet of them for more than 15 minutes. Harris has taken three PCR tests for Covid-19 since the day of the flight, most recently Thursday, and all of them came back negative.

Neither of the individuals who tested positive had contact with Harris or the former Vice President Biden in the 48 hours before their results came back.

Even so, Dillon said Harris' travel through Sunday was being canceled "out of an abundance of caution." The California senator had been scheduled to travel to swing-state North Carolina on Thursday.

Dillon also said that "Harris' contact with the crew member on her flight, and her staffer, were so incidental that she is not required to quarantine."

Harris' husband, Douglas Emhoff, has taken four PCR tests since Oct. 8 and they returned negative. The campaign also canceled his planned travel on Thursday.

The news of infections in people involved in the Biden campaign follows an outbreak within President Donald Trump's White House, family and presidential campaign in which more than 30 have tested positive including Trump, the first lady and their son Barron.

Biden and Harris have targeted the president for what they call recklessness in flouting the best recommended practices for limiting the spread of the virus. Trump and his allies have mocked masks and social distancing practices despite their proven effectiveness in curtailing the spread of Covid-19.

Trump returned to in-person campaigning, complete with large crowds, as soon as doctors said he was no longer infectious. After the president was hospitalized and treated for Covid-19 earlier this month, he has downplayed the effects of the virus even as it continues to spread across the country.

After Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis, the Committee on Presidential Debates opted to make Thursday's face-off between the president and Biden a virtual event. The Trump campaign then said it would not participate.

ABC and NBC plan to hold dueling town halls with Biden and Trump, respectively, at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday.

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