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Vice presidential debate still on for next week, commission says


The announcement comes amid questions over campaign changes after President Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis

Drew Angerer/ NICHOLAS KAMM both via Getty Images

The debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is still a go for Wednesday of next week according to the governing body coordinating the event, as questions swirl over how the final stretch of campaigning might be impacted after President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19.

What are the details?

The Commission on Presidential Debates confirmed to The Hill that the debate, which will be hosted by the University of Utah, will still take place. However, the university has put rules in place aimed at minimizing the risk of the coronavirus being spread at the event.

Every attendee will be required to wear a mask in the venue "at all times" during the debate with the exception of the candidates and the moderator, and "every single person must receive a negative COVID test" administered at the university's hospital before entering the debate venue, according to a spokesperson for the school.

Reuters noted that Pence and Harris issued separate announcements Friday saying they had tested negative for the coronavirus. Several other public officials were also tested for COVID-19 hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that he and first lady Melania Trump were both diagnosed with the virus. Among others, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tested positive, which may potentially throw a wrench in the Senate calendar, as all other senators who have been with Lee recently would be ordinarily required to quarantine pending the results of their own tests.

The White House said Friday the president and the first lady are experiencing mild symptoms from the coronavirus. Trump was sent to Walter Reed Medical Center out of an "abundance of caution,"

On Friday, Trump 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien issued a statement announcing that all campaign events involving the president or any other member of the Trump family would either be postponed or held virtually.

"Vice President Mike Pence, who has tested negative for COVID-19, plans on resuming his scheduled campaign events," the campaign chief wrote.

Pence to stay on campaign trail

Pence was also given the all-clear from his doctor to stay on the campaign trail. The vice president's physician, Jesse Schonau, M.D., issued a memo saying, "Under the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control, the Vice President is not considered a close contact with any individuals who have tested positive for COVID, including President Donald J. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence does not need to quarantine."

Meanwhile, the vice president stepped in Friday morning and hosted a call with the governors in place of President Trump, who was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center later in the day out of "an abundance of caution," according to the White House.

Prior to President Trump boarding Marine One to go to the hospital, NBC News' Andrea Mitchell reported: "White House says @realDonaldTrump has not transferred power temporarily to @VP under 25th amendment which has happened 3 times for procedures involving anesthesia an amendment for emergencies voted as result of Kennedy assassination."

This story has been updated.

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