Sen. Kamala Harris had planned to campaign in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania before the two people tested positive for COVID-19. USA TODAY
Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, canceled campaign trips to key battleground states through Sunday after two people associated with the campaign tested positive for COVID-19.
Harris had planned to campaign Thursday in North Carolina, in Asheville and Charlotte; on Friday in Cleveland; and on Saturday in Pennsylvania, in Allentown and Philadelphia.
The positive tests late Wednesday included a flight crew member, who doesn’t work for the campaign, and the senator’s communications director, Liz Allen, according to Jen O’Malley Dillon, campaign manager for presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Harris wasn’t in close contact with either person within two days of the tests and so faces no obligation to quarantine, O’Malley Dillon said.
“Regardless, out of an abundance of caution and in line with our campaign’s commitment to the highest levels of precaution, we are canceling Senator Harris’s travel through Sunday, October 18th,” O’Malley Dillon said.
Biden had a PCR testing for COVID-19 on Wednesday and the virus wasn’t detected, the campaign said Thursday.
Harris, who scheduled several virtual fundraisers during that period, plans to continue a “robust and aggressive” schedule and plans to return to in-person events Monday, Dillon said.
Harris has been participating virtually this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The committee is scheduled to vote Oct. 22 on the nomination.
Neither the flight crew member nor Allen had contact with Harris or Biden, during the 48 hours before their tests. But both had been on a flight with Harris Oct. 8, when each person wore an N-95 mask.
Both the staffers attended personal events during the past week and had to be tested before returning to work, under the campaign’s health protocols, which include regular testing, isolation after time off, wearing masks and social distancing.
“These protocols help protect the campaign, the staff, and anyone who they may have contact with,” Dillon said. She said the value of the health protocols has “been illustrated once again.”
Harris has taken two PCR tests since Oct. 8 and both were negative, most recently on Wednesday. Other staffers have also tested negative. Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, has also tested negative.
But he canceled travel Thursday to Minneapolis with the nominee’s wife, Jill Biden, and will return to the road Friday, headed to Nebraska.
The precautions illustrate a contrast throughout the campaign between Biden and President Donald Trump in how they respond to the virus.
Biden has promoted precautions such as mask wearing and holding campaign events with social distancing. But Trump, who tested positive Oct. 1 and was briefly hospitalized, has ridiculed Biden for his mask wearing and continued to hold crowded rallies.
Trump promoted the development of therapeutics and vaccines to combat the virus. But he argued that Biden used masks and other precautions as a way to hide from tough questions during the campaign and avoid comparisons over the size of rally crowds.
The Biden campaign is tracing contacts of the people who tested positive, in contrast to the White House not tracing people who attended Trump’s announcement about Barrett. Dozens of people who attended the Barrett event later tested positive.
“From the outset of this pandemic, the Biden-Harris campaign has taken every precaution to limit the spread of COVID-19,” O’Malley Dillon said. “Today’s exceedingly cautious steps are part of that commitment.”
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