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Harris suspends travel after 2 staffers tests positive for COVID-19

WILMINGTON, Del. — Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, will suspend in-person events until Monday after two people associated with the campaign tested positive for coronavirus.

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign said Thursday that Biden had no exposure, though he and Harris spent several hours campaigning together in Arizona on Oct. 8. Both have tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times since then.

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 woman on a major party presidential ticket, as a key part of their outreach in North Carolina, where increasing Black turnout is key to the Democrats’ hopes of flipping the state from President Donald Trump’s column. She had been scheduled to travel to the state Thursday for events encouraging voters to cast early ballots.

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 senator’s brief hiatus from the trail comes as Trump ramps up his own travel again after he, first lady Melania Trump 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 a recent campaign trip to the southwest.

Campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said both individuals tested negative before and after the conclusion of Harris’s 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 none of the candidates’ exposure and contact tracing meet the CDC guidelines 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’s 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

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Kamala Harris cancels campaign travel after two staffers test positive for COVID-19

The Biden campaign said Thursday that Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will be suspending her campaign travel until Sunday, October 18, because two people involved in the campaign, Harris’ communications director, Liz Allen, and a non-staff flight crew member have tested positive for COVID-19.

Both received their positive tests late Wednesday night. 

“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 for President Campaign Manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement.

According to a campaign aide, Harris has had no in-person contact with Allen since October 8, when Harris traveled to Arizona to campaign with Democratic nominee Joe Biden the day after her debate with Vice President Pence. Allen, who has traveled with Harris on every campaign stop since Harris joined the ticket, was also in Arizona. It’s unclear how close she was to Biden during the event. According to the campaign, on the flight back to Washington, D.C., Harris and the two individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 all wore N95 masks, and Harris was, “not within six feet for more than 15 minutes with either of them.” Harris and her staff took separate cars from Biden while they were in Arizona.

Harris, who was taking a brief break from the campaign trail to participate in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, had just announced a packed campaign schedule, with upcoming trips to North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. She was expected to campaign in Asheville and Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday.

Harris has taken two PCR tests since October 8, and all the tests have been negative. She received her latest negative test a day ago, on Wednesday, October 14.

Her husband, Doug Emhoff, has also cancelled campaign events in Iowa Thursday but plans to hit the trail again on Friday.

Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.

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