Politics

White House says Trump tests negative for coronavirus before debate with Biden

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump tested negative for the coronavirus ahead of his final debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, the White House said Thursday.
  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Trump was tested for Covid-19 on Air Force One as he traveled to the debate hall in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • The debate is set to kick off at 9 p.m. ET. It will be moderated by NBC News' Kristen Welker.
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures to reporters as he walks from Marine One with first lady Melania Trump to board Air Force One as they depart Washington on campaign travel to Nashville, Tennessee to attend his second and final debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., October 22, 2020.
Tom Brenner | Reuters

President Donald Trump tested negative for the coronavirus ahead of his final debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, the White House said Thursday.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Trump was tested for Covid-19 on Air Force One as he traveled to the debate hall in Nashville, Tennessee, where he will face off against Biden for the second and final time before Election Day.

Chief of staff Mark Meadows also told reporters that Trump tested negative.

The debate is set to kick off at 9 p.m. ET. It will be moderated by NBC News' Kristen Welker.

Trump and Biden had first participated in a messy, rancorous brawl of a debate in late September. Days after that event, Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19. It was unclear when he had first been infected or by whom.

VIDEO1:5301:53
The final debate between Trump and Biden has a new rule—microphones can be muted

Trump and the White House have faced persistent questions about when the president last tested negative before discovering he had contracted the virus.

In an interview with NBC's Savannah Guthrie last week, Trump said he wasn't sure if he had been tested on the day of his first debate with Biden. "Possibly I did, possibly I didn't," Trump said.

Like in the debate between Trump's vice president, Mike Pence, and Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, the president and the Democratic nominee will be separated by sheets of plexiglass on stage Thursday night.

The contenders will also have their microphones cut off for parts of the debate. The 90-minute event will be divided into six 15-minute sections, each on a different topic. When one candidate is given a chance to provide a two-minute answer to a topic, his opponent's microphone will be muted.

The topics, selected by Welker, are:

  • Fighting Covid-19
  • American families
  • Race in America
  • Climate change
  • National security
  • Leadership