Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris will be regularly tested for coronavirus, the campaign said.
The news comes one day after Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, admitted during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” that the septuagenarian candidate had not yet taken a test for the novel virus.
Speaking to the network Sunday, the senior campaign official acknowledged that while the 77-year-old had not been tested, “we have put the strictest protocols in place, and … moving forward, should he need to be tested, he certainly would be. But he has not been tested yet.”
In a statement released Monday, Biden campaign rapid response director Andrew Bates said, “This announcement is another step demonstrating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ commitment to turn the page on Trump’s catastrophic mismanagement during the worst public health crisis in 100 years.”
As part of the change, the campaign pledged to disclose to the public if either candidate tested positive for the virus. Staff who interact with Biden and Harris will also be tested regularly.
The campaign said it made the decision to move forward with regular coronavirus testing after it was recommended by medical advisers.
The move comes in the final stretch of the general election cycle, when candidates from both the Democratic and Republican tickets are expected to conduct some type of in-person campaigning.
Team Biden referenced “the potential of additional events” in their announcement, but declined to elaborate on what, if any, events were being planned.
Biden’s team has long rejected the need for regular testing, with the candidate himself regularly assuring the American public that he has no symptoms.
Still, the former vice president is 77 years old, making him at higher risk of developing severe side effects from the novel virus if he contracts it.
At last week’s Democratic National Convention, Biden and Harris were not required to be tested to enter the Wilmington, Delaware, event space where they delivered remarks.
Reporters covering the event in person, however, were required to be tested daily, and have a negative result, to gain admission inside.
During Thursday night’s closing festivities, Biden watched from a stage outside the event space alongside Harris and their spouses as fireworks went off and supporters honked their horns and waved flags from a parking lot.
At that time, a reporter asked Biden about the issue of testing, marking the first time a member of the press had tried to speak to the presidential nominee that week.
“Mr. Biden, have you been tested for COVID-19?” the reporter yelled, according to a BuzzFeed News reporter who witnessed the interaction.
“Are you kidding me?” a Biden aide hissed back.
After the virus swept the US earlier this year, the Democratic presidential hopeful began campaigning virtually out of his Wilmington home, with him and his campaign firmly saying they were following the advice of medical professionals.
Still, the campaign continued to reject the need for regular testing despite President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence agreeing to do so in the White House in May, after a valet who was in the Oval Office tested positive.
It is not clear when the Democratic running mates will receive their first tests, or if they will be tested for antibodies.
With Post wires