A COVID-10 outbreak among the staff of Kamala Harris has forced the Democratic vice presidential nominee to suspend in-person events until Monday.
Two people associated with the campaign tested positive for the coronavirus.
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign said Thursday that the 77-year-old candidate had no known exposure, despite Biden and Harris spending several hours campaigning together in Arizona on Oct. 8, when the two people were on a flight with Harris. Biden’s campaign said he tested negative again on Thursday.
It’s the Biden campaign’s first major coronavirus scare, just after a White House virus outbreak that included President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump.
Harris’ travel suspension comes at a bad time for the Biden campaign. The COVID-19 outbreak 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.
Biden aides see Harris, the first Black woman on a major party presidential ticket, as a key part of its outreach in North Carolina, where increasing Black voter 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.
Additionally, her Friday 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 Biden campaign has begun to push into Ohio, and Harris’ visit was considered key to that effort.
A spokesperson for the Democratic presidential 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.
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“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 because they were together on plane flights, 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.
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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.
Biden will attend an ABC News town hall on Thursday airing live at 8 p.m. EDT, and he will proceed with his planned travel Friday and through the weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this article