FLORIDA, USA — Joe Biden says he's willing to go forward with an in-person debate later this month “if scientists say it’s safe,” even after President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Speaking to reporters before boarding a flight to campaign in Florida, the Democratic presidential nominee declined to say Monday whether he believes the next presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 15, should be virtual.
Instead, he said he would “listen to the science” and that “if scientists say that it’s safe, that distances are safe, then I think that’s fine.”
Biden and Trump stood about 10 feet (3 meters) apart during the last debate, though neither wore a mask during the event. Trump tested positive for the virus just two days later and is hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Plans for the second debate are in question following Trump’s diagnosis, and the development has already informed changes to the vice presidential debate. Vice President Mike Pence and Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, will stand 12 feet (3.6 meters) apart, rather than the 7 feet (2 meters) originally planned.
It's unclear how the president became infected but attention is focusing on a White House event Sept. 26 introducing his Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, where more than 150 people gathered mostly without masks. Kellyanne Conway is one of several notable attendees who have since tested positive, along with press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the University of Notre Dame president and Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.