Cleveland officials link 11 COVID-19 cases to pre-debate planning and set-up

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At least 11 positive COVID-19 cases have been linked to planning and set up prior to Tuesday’s presidential debate, Cleveland officials said on Friday.

It’s unclear how those individuals contracted the virus but City Hall noted that in order to enter the event, everyone credentialed to be there had to be tested. The majority of cases occurred with individuals who were from outside of the state, and no city residents appeared to have contracted the virus in connection with the debate.

Cleveland Clinic, which advised on health precautions at the debate, said on Friday evening that the individuals who tested positive “never accessed the debate hall.”

“These individuals were either members of the media or were scheduled to work logistics/set-up in the days prior to the event. Individuals did not receive credentials or tickets to enter the debate hall until they had a negative test, and all were advised to isolate while they awaited their test results.”


The announcement came amid news that President Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and eventually relocated to Walter Reed Medical Center “out of an abundance of caution.” Former Vice President Joe Biden, who debated Trump on Tuesday, and his wife Jill both tested negative.

Cleveland officials said that the city contacted, interviewed, and issued isolation orders for the individuals who tested positive. “There were also conversations with individuals who tested positive regarding their upcoming travel,” a read.

Besides Trump, his campaign manager Bill Stepien tested positive for the virus, as did former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and White House adviser Hope Hicks.

President Trump’s party at the presidential debate on Tuesday refused to wear masks despite a requirement by the venue that they do so, and they turned down a Cleveland Clinic staffer who offered them face coverings.

The venue had only made exceptions to its mask rule for Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and moderator Chris Wallace.


Cleveland Clinic said on Friday that it believed there was a low risk of exposure to guests, given the precautions they put in place.

“Based on what we know about the virus and the safety measures we had in place, we believe there is low risk of exposure to our guests. Out of an abundance of caution, we are reaching out to our guests to address any questions and concerns,” a statement read.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson and Chris Wallace contributed to this report.

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