June 15, 2021

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Joe Biden traveling to Michigan after receiving negative COVID-19 test

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Joe Biden will visit Grand Rapids for campaign events today, despite news President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19. 

President Trump mocks Joe Biden for wearing masks all the time during debate

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The former vice president and Democratic nominee was also tested for the disease caused by the coronavirus Friday, with results showing he did not have COVID-19. 

“Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected. I am reporting this out in my capacity as both Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden’s primary care physician,” Dr. Kevin O’Connor said in a statement issued by the Biden campaign. 



a person wearing a suit and tie walking on a sidewalk: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden shops for his grandchildren at Three Thirteen in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. Biden is visiting Michigan for campaign events.


© Patrick Semansky, AP
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden shops for his grandchildren at Three Thirteen in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. Biden is visiting Michigan for campaign events.

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Earlier Friday morning, reports from the press pool with the Biden campaign said reporters were awaiting the vice president’s test results to see whether they would still travel to Grand Rapids. 

Michigan health officials have confirmed more than 125,000 cases in the state, resulting in more than 6,700 deaths as of Thursday. 

Biden and Trump are both at higher risk for complications from COVID-19because of  their age. While those closest to Trump and Biden are routinely tested, both frequently attend events around many people. Biden’s events tend to be closed to the public with fewer people and strict rules about wearing masks, but he still routinely interacts with voters. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests anyone who was within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes is considered exposed to the virus and should quarantine. Outdoor exposure is considered less risky than indoor exposure, and wearing a mask offers more protection than not wearing a mask.

At Tuesday’s presidential debate, Trump and Biden didn’t get within 6 feet of one another or make contact, but they were indoors together for about 90 minutes. Neither was wearing a mask. They also were projecting their voices, another factor that can lead to increased risk of transmission.

During the debate Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask. 

“Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” Trump said. 

Dr. Howard Markel, director of the Center for the History of Medicine and a professor at the University of Michigan, said Trump’s mockery of Biden during the debate “was almost like a bully in grade school.”

“I was just so sensitive to that because of course he’s wearing a mask. That’s what you should do,” Markel said. 

Biden was scheduled for two events in Grand Rapids on Friday following events throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania earlier in the week. But the campaign on Friday consolidated the events, canceling a voter mobilization rally and pushing back a speech on the economy to 4:30 pm. 

Neither state nor local health officials said they were consulted by the Biden campaign about whether the former vice president should continue with the events despite his potential exposure at the debate Tuesday night.

“We have no involvement in this situation,” said Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Steve Kelso, a spokesperson for the Kent County Health Department, said: “I can’t find anybody here … who has had any contact with the Biden campaign” in regard to whether events in Grand Rapids should continue as scheduled.

However, Kelso stressed that if the campaigning continues, Biden and others should continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, diligently wash their hands and take other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

With millions of ballots already cast or on their way to voters, the president’s positive test result likely upends campaign plans for both presidential contenders. 

Biden, vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris and other Democratic surrogates have made many recent trips to Michigan. During her recent visits to Flint and Detroit, Harris wore a mask but interacted very closely with hundreds of screaming and cheering people. 

More: Fact-checking the first 2020 presidential debate: Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden

More: Sen. Harris tells Detroiters: Election will determine nation’s future for years

More: Gretchen Whitmer: Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis ‘wakeup call to every single American’

Trump rallied thousands of supporters during a trip earlier this month to Freeland, outside Saginaw. Although the campaign passed out masks and checked temperatures, few of the more than 5,000 attendees wore them throughout the event. 

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, a Michigan native, swung through the state last week to make several campaign stops. But she tested positive earlier this week for COVID-19 as well. McDaniel got tested after a family member tested positive for COVID-19, an RNC official told USA TODAY. 



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: In this Sept. 29, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump holds up his face mask during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, the president tweeted early Friday.


© AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File
In this Sept. 29, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump holds up his face mask during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, the president tweeted early Friday.

Biden is ahead of Trump in most polls conduct among Michigan voters. A recent poll conducted for the Free Press determined Biden led Trump by 8 percentage point.

More:Here’s what Trump’s positive COVID-19 test means for the 2020 election campaign

More: President Trump has tested positive for COVID-19. What’s the typical course of the illness?

In theory, that would mean the president and surrogates would want to campaign more in Michigan if they intended to remain competitive. However, the need for the president to quarantine for an undetermined amount of time likely means the campaign shifts largely to television and online advertising. 

The general electiis Nov. 3, with voters able to apply for an receive absentee ballots now. 

Contact Dave Boucher at [email protected] or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Joe Biden traveling to Michigan after receiving negative COVID-19 test

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