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Pence Team Agrees to Plexiglass Barrier at Debate With Harris

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 10/7/2020 Mario Parker

(Bloomberg) -- Vice President Mike Pence’s team has agreed to allow a plexiglass divider for his side of the stage during Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate with Kamala Harris, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The team asked why a shield was needed if the two candidates would be 12 feet apart, according to the people, who added late Tuesday night that they had yet to receive a response. They said, however, that they would comply with the rules in order for the debate to proceed as scheduled.

The concession came after Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, told the Washington Post earlier Tuesday that their team did not view plexiglass dividers as medically necessary, given that the two debaters will be more than 12 feet apart.

Short, who has led Pence’s debate preparations, told the Post that if Harris “wants it, she’s more than welcome to surround herself with plexiglass if that makes her feel more comfortable.”

Katie Miller, a spokesperson for Pence, confirmed Short’s comments to the Post.

a group of people sitting at a desk: Preparations Ahead Of Vice Presidential Debate © Bloomberg Preparations Ahead Of Vice Presidential Debate

Workers clean plexiglass dividers on the debate stage on Oct. 6.

Photographer: Kim Raff/Bloomberg

Sabrina Singh, a Harris spokesperson, said the Democratic vice-presidential nominee would respect the measures recommended by the Cleveland Clinic, which is advising the Commission on Presidential Debates on precautions against infection by the coronavirus.

“If the Trump administration’s war on masks has now become a war on safety shields, that tells you everything you need to know about why their Covid response is a failure,” Singh said.

Earlier: Pence, Harris Debate Unfolds With Amped-Up Stakes, Plexiglass

The debate is scheduled to take place on Wednesday at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City at 9 p.m. New York time.

The forum will be held two days after President Donald Trump left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he was treated for Covid-19, the highly contagious virus that’s killed more than 210,000 Americans and infected nearly 7.5 million. Trump tested positive for the disease just days after his Sept. 29 debate in Cleveland with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Others in the president’s orbit have tested positive as well, including First Lady Melania Trump, aide Hope Hicks, his campaign manager Bill Stepien and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, announced on Tuesday night that he, too, had tested positive. He is married to Katie Miller, who contracted the virus in May but recovered.

According to a person familiar with the matter, Katie Miller has tested negative over the last two days but as a precaution left Salt Lake City. The person added that Pence has not had close contact with Stephen Miller.

Pence tested negative on Tuesday, his physician said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the vice president’s office released a memorandum from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield. After consultation with Pence’s physician about his physical contacts and “serial negative testing results,” the memo said, “it is safe for the vice president to participate in the upcoming” debate.

Harris’ campaign said Tuesday that she had tested negative for coronavirus on Monday.

The Commission on Presidential Debates said Monday that plexiglass would be used at the debate. The commission also said that anyone in the hall who doesn’t wear a mask would be escorted out. At last week’s presidential debate, members of Trump’s family declined to wear masks in the debate hall.

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