Harris cancels travel after Biden campaign announces positive Covid tests
The campaign said Harris has tested negative for coronavirus three times over the past week, including Thursday.
Sen. Kamala Harris has canceled all campaign travel through this weekend “out of an abundance of caution” after a flight crew member and her communications director tested positive for coronavirus, the Biden campaign announced Thursday.
Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, has tested negative for coronavirus three times over the past week — including on Thursday — the campaign added.
“Senator Harris was not in close contact, as defined by the CDC, with either of these individuals during the two days prior to their positive tests; as such, there is no requirement for quarantine,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement.
Neither of the individuals who tested positive had contact with Harris or former Vice President Joe Biden “or any other staffers since testing positive or in the 48 hours prior to their positive test results,” O’Malley Dillon said.
O‘Malley Dillon later announced that as part of the contact tracing process stemming from the two positive cases tied to Harris, the campaign discovered that “an administrative member of the Aviation company that charters Vice President Biden‘s aircraft“ had tested positive, as well.
Though the member traveled on two trips with Biden this week, the campaign said that because both that person and Biden wore masks for the entirety of the flights and remained about 50 feet apart, Biden would not be suspending campaign travel or quarantining.
In a series of tweets, Harris said that she was not experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus, pledging that she “will be transparent with you about any test results that I do receive.”
“In the meantime, remember: wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands regularly. It is possible to stop the spread,” she added.
Harris was previously set to campaign in North Carolina on Thursday, traveling to Charlotte and Asheville to mark the beginning of early voting in the key battleground state.
On Friday, the senator was scheduled to travel to Cleveland.
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night, Harris had said she would also be in Pennsylvania over the weekend and teased a campaign trip to Texas as well.
She had been off the trail this week as she participated in the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, though Harris appeared virtually for each of the hearing’s first three days. An aide said Harris does not plan to return to Thursday's portion of the hearing, and instead will participate remotely in other campaign-related events until her return to the road next week.
Both the flight crew member, who is not a part of the Biden campaign, and Harris’ communications director Liz Allen had attended personal events not related to the campaign in the past week, according to O’Malley Dillon. As part of the campaign’s health protocols, both were required to be tested before returning to work with the campaign.
Prior to that, both of those who tested positive were last on a flight with Harris on Oct. 8, a date Harris and Biden campaigned together in Phoenix. Both the flight crew member and Allen, as well as Harris, wore an N-95 mask, and Harris was never within six feet of either for longer than 15 minutes, the campaign said.
The campaign is also postponing campaign travel for Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff, though he had no contact with either Allen or the flight crew member. He will return to the trail on Friday. Emhoff also tested negative on Thursday, the campaign said.
The two cases tied to the Biden campaign come after President Donald Trump announced he was diagnosed with coronavirus earlier this month amid a larger outbreak that spread throughout the White House, infected his reelection campaign manager and other allies as the campaign entered its critical final weeks.
The Biden campaign has repeatedly sought to contrast its internal health protocols and the precautions taken for in-person campaign events with those of the Trump campaign. O’Malley Dillon attributed the campaign’s “strict” protocols with potentially protecting the infection of other campaign staffers or the candidates.
“These protocols help protect the campaign, the staff, and anyone who they may have contact with; the importance of having such protocols -- which include testing before resuming duties, regular testing while working in-person, isolation after time off, and masking and distancing while on campaign duties -- have been illustrated once again,” she said.
Since Trump’s diagnosis, which sidelined him from the campaign trail for a little over a week, Biden’s campaign has vowed to disclose the results of every coronavirus test the candidate takes for transparency’s sake — even as the White House has refused to say when Trump last received a negative test before his diagnosis.
Biden's campaign said Thursday afternoon that the former vice president was tested again on Wednesday night and tested negative.
Beyond Harris's three negative tests all other staffers on the Oct. 8 flight have taken “routine tests” since, which the campaign said amounted to “two to three PCR tests each,” all of which came back negative. The CDC warns, however, that a negative test result does not necessarily indicate that future tests will also be negative.
The administrative member who traveled on flights with Biden tested negative three times since Oct. 4, the campaign said, including less than 24 hours before his first flight with the former vice president.
O’Malley Dillon said that the campaign has already begun contact tracing to notify anyone — including reporters — who had potentially been exposed during the infection window and had reported the positive results to local officials as required, a step the White House refused to take when it experienced its own outbreak several weeks ago.
“From the outset of this pandemic, the Biden-Harris campaign has taken every precaution to limit the spread of COVID-19. Today’s exceedingly cautious steps are part of that commitment,” she said.
She said later that the campaign was contacting those who might have been in close contact with the administrative member from Biden‘s flights, noting that no campaign staffers were included in that category.
“While no additional precautions are indicated for the Vice President or campaign staff, we have taken this occasion to remind all of our staff and partners of the importance of adhering to our COVID-19 safety protocols,“ she said.
Trump has since recovered from his illness and returned to the campaign trail, holding outdoor rallies every day this week with hundreds of attendees and little social distancing, even as coronavirus cases spike around the country.
Still, he has continued to mock Biden for holding smaller events.
“Joe doesn't have any rallies because nobody shows up to his rallies, so he doesn't have the same problem,” Trump said Thursday in an interview on Fox Business when asked about descriptions of his rallies as “super-spreader” events.
Christopher Cadelago contributed to this report.