WILMINGTON, Del. — Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, will suspend in-person events until Oct. 19 after two people associated with the campaign tested positive for the coronavirus.
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign said Oct. 15 that Biden had no exposure, though he and Harris spent several hours campaigning together in Arizona on Oct. 8, when the two people were on a flight with Harris. Both candidates have tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times since then, and Biden’s campaign said he tested negative again on Thursday.
It’s the Biden campaign’s first major coronavirus scare, after months of careful health procedures that brought mockery from President Donald Trump, even after a White House virus outbreak that included the president and first lady Melania Trump. The Democratic campaign’s cautious reaction underscores again the differences in how the rival camps have approached the pandemic, both in terms of preferred government response and the candidates’ personal protocols.
The travel suspension interrupts the Biden campaign’s aggressive push across a wide battleground map, including North Carolina and Ohio, the next two states Harris was scheduled to visit.
The campaign sees Harris, the first Black and Indian American woman on a major party presidential ticket, as a key part of its outreach in North Carolina, where increasing Black turnout is key to the Democrats’ hopes of flipping the state. She had been scheduled to travel to the state Thursday for events encouraging voters to cast early ballots.
Her Oct. 16 trip to Cleveland would have been her first to Ohio as the vice presidential nominee and would have taken her into the metropolitan area with the state’s largest concentration of Black voters.
The senator’s brief hiatus from the trail comes as Trump ramps up his own travel again after he, the first lady and several White House staffers contracted the virus.
The Biden campaign told reporters Thursday morning that Harris’ communications director, Liz Allen, and a flight crew member tested positive after the recent campaign trip to the southwest. Campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said both tested negative before and after Harris’ travels. Their positive results came in subsequent tests.
“Neither of these individuals had any contact with Vice President Biden, with Sen. Harris or any other staff member since testing positive or in the 48-hour period prior to their positive test results,” O’Malley Dillon said, adding that under CDC guidelines there was no need for quarantining.
But O’Malley Dillon said Harris would suspend travel for several days “out of an abundance of caution.”
The campaign also is canceling upcoming travel for Doug Emhoff, Harris’ husband.
Harris followed up in a statement saying that “both the crew member and the staff member were wearing N95 masks at all points they were near me, and our doctors believe that we were not exposed under CDC guidelines.”
She also pledged to 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.”
Harris will continue virtual campaigning, including fundraisers previously scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Harris and Biden spent several hours together on Oct. 8 through multiple campaign stops, private meetings and a joint appearance in front of reporters at an airport. They were masked at all times in public, and aides said they were masked in private, as well, including on all flights.
Harris has had two tests since then, most recently on Oct. 14, O’Malley Dillon said.