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Democrat Joe Biden tests negative for coronavirus after President Trump reports positive test

Joe Biden. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
October 02, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden has tested negative for coronavirus, according to his personal doctor, as the Democratic nominee sought to continue campaigning during the month before the Nov. 3 election.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the primary care physician, said Biden and his wife Jill were each tested and “COVID-19 was not detected.”

“Thank you to everyone for your messages of concern,” Biden said in a tweet. “I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.”

The Democratic nominee’s announcement comes less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive. Trump and Biden were in the same room for nearly two hours Tuesday for the first presidential debate.

Trump is quarantining with mild symptoms in the residence portion of the White House. Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, said he was in good spirits.

Biden planned to travel Friday to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for an economic speech.

The Trump announcement came just as Biden’s campaign was beginning to canvass voters face to face. The campaign had resisted that step so far because of the health risks, but get-out-the-vote efforts can be crucial to boosting turnout.

The contrast between how Trump responded to the pandemic and how Biden proposed to deal with it offered one of the starkest contrasts between the candidates throughout the campaign.

Over the past several months, Biden has criticized Trump said he should have set a better example for wearing a mask and keeping a distance with others. But Trump accused Biden of hiding in his basement in Wilmington, Delaware, with only brief excursions for speeches.

The subject rekindled at the debate Tuesday, when Biden cited projections that widespread mask wearing could prevent half of the 200,000 additional deaths expected by the end year. Biden had already proposed in August a nationwide effort to have everyone wear masks for three months, although it would take governors to implement such orders.

“Just wear a mask,” Biden said at the debate.

Trump said he wears a mask when necessary, and pulled one out of his pocket. He said those around him are tested routinely. But he ridiculed Biden for wearing one much more frequently. Trump also said Biden hasn’t held rallies because he couldn’t attract the large crowds the president generates, filled with people who stand close together and who often don’t wear masks.

“I don’t wear a mask like him,” Trump said. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”

For his part, Biden took a whistle-stop train tour Wednesday after the debate to six cities across Ohio and Pennsylvania. The trip offered him a chance to give speeches to larger crowds that kept a distance from his podium. But he also met with small groups of people while wearing a mask.

Biden and Trump each recorded speeches Thursday for the Al Smith Memorial Dinner, a charitable Catholic event in New York that offered another contrast in how the two candidates speak about the pandemic.

Trump said the country would defeat the virus through advances in treatment and he said a vaccine is on track for distribution “before the end of the year.”

“I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight, and next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country,” Trump said.

But with more than 200,000 deaths nationwide already from the virus, Biden noted how many families have lost a loved one from the “unrelenting virus.” He called the pandemic one of a handful of crises facing the country with the recession, a reckoning on race and the changing climate.

“These are difficult times for our country,” Biden said. “With each crisis, our faith is tested.”


© 2020 USA Today