Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, will both receive regular tests for COVID-19 as p
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, will both receive regular tests for COVID-19 as part of new health protocols implemented by their campaign in the lead up to November’s general election.
The Biden campaign made the announcement on testing on Monday, arguing that it is entering a “new phase” that will require both the former vice president and Harris to be more active on the stump during the fall and possibly come in contact with more people.
Staffers who come in close contact with the candidates will also receive regular tests and the campaign promised to be “consistent with the transparency” should either Biden or Harris test positive for the novel coronavirus.
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The announcement marks an about-face for Biden, who for months has said that he has not been tested for the virus. As late as Sunday, his deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield defended Biden not being tested – saying that the campaign has “put the strictest protocols in place, and moving forward, should he need to be tested, he certainly would be.”
On Monday, Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates said the new testing strategy is “another step demonstrating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ commitment to turn the page on Trump’s catastrophic mismanagement during the worst public health crisis in 100 years.”
“For the entirety of this outbreak, Joe Biden has lived his values, modelling and strongly encouraging responsible behavior to keep Americans safe while proposing the kind of desperately-needed national strategy for defeating this pandemic that Donald Trump still has not provided,” Bates said in a statement.
Despite not being tested himself, Biden has laid out a plan for free testing nationwide, expanding testing sites, having federal safety regulators enforce testing at work, and assembling at least 100,000 contact tracers to find people exposed to the virus.
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Biden in the past has defended himself by saying he is holding mostly virtual campaign events and members of his staff and the Secret Service are regularly tested.
While Biden generally has stayed away from large public events and rallies – a move that has been mocked by President Trump and his allies – and worn a mask when he does meet with voters, the 77-year-old candidate is in an age group that makes him more vulnerable to major complications from the disease.
Biden also appeared on Capitol Hill last month to pay his respects to the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. While he wore a mask during his time in Washington, he was still surrounded by dozens of lawmakers.
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President Trump, on the other hand, has been vocal about how many times he’s been tested – although he made clear last month that it is not as much as press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
“He’s tested more than anyone, multiple times a day,” McEneny said during a press conference. “And we believe that he’s acting appropriately.”
Later that day, Trump contradicted her, saying he doesn’t believe he gets tested multiple times a day.
“I don’t know about more than one,” Trump said. “I do probably on average a test every two days, three days, and I don’t know of any time I’ve taken two in one day, but I could see that happening.”
As of Monday, the coronavirus has sickened more than 5.7 million Americans and killed over 177,000 people in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Fox News’ Madeleine Rivera contributed to this report.