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CDC Clears Mike Pence To Go To Vice Presidential Debate

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Topline

CDC Director Robert Redfield has cleared Vice President Mike Pence to go to Wednesday’s vice presidential debate, stating in a memo released Tuesday that he didn’t meet the definition of being in “close contact” with someone who had Covid-19, which would have led to a recommendation to quarantine, despite the fact that Pence sat in the front row for the Rose Garden ceremony on Sept. 26 that appears to have contributed to the current White House outbreak.

Virus Outbreak Pence

Vice President Mike Pence speaks to members of the media at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, … [+] Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, as he leaves Washington for Utah ahead of the vice presidential debate schedule for Oct. 7. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Key Facts

In the memo, Redfield wrote, “it is safe for the Vice President to participate in the upcoming Vice-Presidential debate.”

Pence was not in “close contact” with a Covid-positive person, Redfield wrote, which he defined as being “within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before illness onset.”

Pence has faced calls to quarantine due to his attendance at President Donald Trump’s Rose Garden announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court nominee, at which there were a number of people who have subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus, including Trump.

The vice presidential debate is scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday at the University of Utah.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has approved additional safety measures given the White House outbreak, such as sitting Pence and Democratic nominee Sen. Kamala Harris 12 feet apart and placing a plexiglass barrier between the two, but Pence backed off that proposal on Tuesday.

Pence has requested that no barrier be placed on his side of the stage during the debate, and CNN has reported that organizers will allow Pence to debate without plexiglass surrounding him.

Critical Quote

“Based on the descriptions of the movements of the Vice President from Dr. Shonau, the Vice President is not a close contact of any known person with Covid-19, including the President,” the letter said.

Key Background

The Rose Garden ceremony has been described as a “super-spreader” event for Covid-19, apparently leading to at least 10 confirmed infections among attendees, with those attendees possibly causing dozens more. Harris will have plexiglass on her side of the stage for Wednesday’s debate, but Debate Commission co-chairman Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. has said they don’t want to have the Vice President “in what looks like a box.” Additional safety measures may also have to be taken for the second presidential debate, scheduled for next week in Miami, since Trump might still be contagious for that debate.

Further Reading

Pence And Harris Will Be Separated By Plexiglass During Debate (Forbes)

Mike Pence Requests No Plexiglass Divider For Him At Wednesday Debate (Forbes)

Commission to allow Pence to debate without plexiglass barriers around him (CNN)

White House Outbreak: Senior Advisor Stephen Miller Latest To Test Positive (Forbes)

Miami Mayor To Trump: Don’t Come For Debate Unless You’re Covid-Free (Forbes)

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