At least 11 positive coronavirus tests can be linked back to the presidential debate, Cleveland officials say

U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate in Cleveland Brian Snyder/Reuters Images
  • At least 11 people involved in setup and organising for last week’s presidential debate have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an announcement from Cleveland officials.
  • The announcement specifies that the positive tests did not come from people who actually participated in or attended the debate.
  • Neither President Donald Trump nor former Vice President Joe Biden wore a mask during Tuesday’s debate but were social distancing on stage.
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At least 11 positive coronavirus cases have been traced back to people involved in setup and organising for last week’s debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, according to Cleveland officials.

“The City of Cleveland is aware of positive cases of COVID-19 following the Sept. 29 presidential debate. In total, at this time, we are aware of 11 cases stemming from pre-debate planning and set-up, with the majority of cases occurring among out of state residents,” a statement from Cleveland City Hall reads.

“At this time, though that could change, no City residents appear to have contracted the virus as a result of this event.”

The announcement came days after Trump revealed early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had contracted the coronavirus. Trump has since been transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, just outside Washington, D.C.

Both Biden and his wife have tested negative following Trump’s diagnosis.

For nearly two hours Tuesday, the two men faced off on stage without masks. Their podiums were positioned at a sizeable distance throughout the televised event. While some members of the audience wore masks, Trump’s family members were seen without face coverings while sitting in the front row.

The Cleveland announcement specifies that the positive tests were traced back to people who were involved only in the organisation of the debate days prior to the event.

“The 11 people who tested positive never accessed the debate hall,” NBC News reported, citing the Cleveland Clinic, the health security adviser for the Commission on Presidential Debates.

“These individuals were either members of the media or were scheduled to work logistics/set-up in the days prior to the event,” according to a Clinic statement from Friday night. “Individuals did not receive credentials or tickets to enter the debate hall until they had a negative test, and all were advised to isolate while they awaited their test results.”

The 11 individuals who tested positive were mostly out-of-state residents, according to the City Hall release. City health officials have reached out to them and issued orders of isolation.

The coronavirus has infected more than 7.3 million people nationwide, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Of that figure, more than 208,000 people have died.