11 positive coronavirus tests linked to presidential debate, Cleveland officials say


At least 11 positive coronavirus tests can be attributed to members of the media or the organizers of this week’s presidential debate in Cleveland, city ​​and clinic officials said on Friday.

The city’s announcement came after President Donald Trump, who debated Democratic rival Joe Biden in Cleveland on Tuesday, revealed that he and his wife both tested positive for Covid-19 and were in isolation. Trump was rushed to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday.

“The city of Cleveland is aware of positive cases of Covid-19 following the presidential debate on September 29,” according to a statement from the town hall. “We advise anyone who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive to self-quarantine. If someone has any concerns or is showing symptoms, they should contact their healthcare provider.”

The city’s announcement also came shortly after the Cleveland Clinic, which oversaw Covid-19 protocols during the debate, said it was confident guests at Tuesday night’s event were at immune to the coronavirus.

“Based on what we know about the virus and the safety measures we had in place, we believe there is a low risk of exposure for our clients,” the Cleveland Clinic said in a statement.

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The city specifically said the positive tests were attributed to people involved in organizing the debate.

“In total, at present, we are aware of 11 cases resulting from the planning and setting up of the debate, with the majority of cases occurring among residents out of state,” he said. declared the city. “At this time, although that may change, no one in the city appears to have contracted the virus as a result of this event.”

Later on Friday, the Cleveland Clinic clarified that “the 11 people who tested positive never entered the debate room.”

“These people were either members of the media or had to work in logistics / installation in the days leading up to the event,” Clinic said on Friday evening. “Individuals were not given credentials or tickets to enter the debate room until they tested negative, and all were advised to self-isolate while awaiting the results of their test. “

A prominent Ohio lawmaker who attended the debate went into isolation on Friday after learning of Trump’s positive test.

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes said she had personally seen members of the president’s entourage refuse masks from healthcare providers – at the Cleveland Clinic – inside from the lobby of Case Western Reserve University.

“I am frustrated today as I am now worried about my own health and that of so many others who were present that evening such as reporters, support staff, professionals from the Cleveland Clinic and many others who were present that night. others that could have potentially been exposed “, Sykes said in a statement Friday.

Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Melania Trump, Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr., before the first presidential debate in Cleveland on September 29, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP – Getty Images

“This was not to happen,” said Sykes. “If more followed the guidelines, this wouldn’t continue to happen. “

Sykes’ director of communications Amber Epling said her boss texted senior executives that evening to express her concerns.

“She was just horrified, she was in the same room with them and they just motioned for the doctors” to offer masks, Epling told NBC News.

Akron Democrat, graduate in public health, said she was unsure how long she would be in quarantine. She wished Trump and the First Lady a speedy recovery.

“Americans woke up this morning to this news, the ripple effects of which are not yet visible. It is a very dark time for our country in a year of dark times, ”said Sykes. “The president’s diagnosis poses a risk not only to our national security, our economic stability, but also to our upcoming elections. I wish the President, the First Lady and her team a speedy recovery. “

Representative Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ahead of the first presidential debate in Cleveland on September 29, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP – Getty Images

It was not immediately clear how many Case Western or Cleveland Clinic employees were at the site Tuesday night, or if any of them were in close contact with Trump or White House aide Hope Hicks. , who tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.

A spokesperson for Case Western also declined to comment when asked on Friday whether the university had made any upgrades to the ventilation or filtration system at the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion ahead of Tuesday night’s event.

“The university appreciates the extra effort made today by the Cleveland Clinic for participants who may have concerns and / or questions,” Case Western said in a statement Friday.

Some attendees, who wore masks on Tuesday night, said they were livid when unmasked spectators walked around the hall.

Kristin Urquiza, who lost her father to Covid-19 and was a guest of the Biden campaign on Tuesday, said she wore a mask – but was stunned not to see anyone around Trump in a face cover.

“But when I looked to the right side, not a single person on the Trump side, including the Trump family, Melania Trump, the Trump kids, was wearing a mask,” Urquiza said. “Live with Ayman Mohyeldin” from MSNBC. “And I remember thinking to myself, and that was right when the debate said, ‘Oh. My God. Is no one going to regulate the wearing of a mask by these people? “And no one did.”

U.S. Representative Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said Trump’s wife entered the room directly in front of him but kept a safe social distance. But he too was amazed to see so many people without masks in the debate.

“And they come in without masks, that was really a level of arrogance that you rarely see,” Ryan told MSNBC.

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