Biden: Second debate should not go ahead if Trump still has covid

7 October 2020, 06:58

Joe Biden urged caution over holding the next US presidential debate
Joe Biden urged caution over holding the next US presidential debate. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

US presidential candidate Joe Biden says there shouldn't be a second debate next week if Donald Trump still has coronavirus.

The US president, who is recovering from Covid-19 at the White House, said yesterday he's "looking forward" to going up against his rival on Thursday.

But Mr Biden insists they are "going to have to follow very strict guidelines".

Mr Biden has repeatedly tested negative for the virus, while Mr Trump has faced criticism from him over his "macho" stance and for playing down the seriousness of coronavirus.

Mr Trump returned to the White House on Monday and continues to recover behind closed doors as more of aides tested positive, including one of his closest advisers Stephen Miller.

Trump's doctor, Navy Commander Sean Conley, said in a letter that the president had a "restful" night at the White House and "reports no symptoms".

Four weeks away from Election Day, and Mr Trump is eager to project strength and tweeted on Tuesday morning that he was planning to attend next week's debate with Democrat Joe Biden in Miami and "It will be great!"

Elsewhere in the government, the scope of the outbreak was still being uncovered.

On Tuesday, the nation's top military leaders including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and the vice chairman, General John Hyten, were in quarantine after exposure to Admiral Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard.

It was not known how Mr Ray contracted the virus, but he attended an event for military families at the White House on September 27.

Also testing positive on Tuesday was Mr Miller, a top policy adviser and Trump speechwriter, who has been an architect of the president's "America First" foreign policy and restrictive immigration measures.

Mr Miller's wife, Katie Miller, who serves as communications director to Vice President Mike Pence, had the virus earlier this year.

She had been in Salt Lake City with Mr Pence where he is preparing to debate Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, but she left as soon as she found out about her husband's diagnosis, officials said.

On Monday, Mr Trump made clear that he has little intention of abiding by best containment practices, when he removed his mask before entering the White House after his discharge from Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre.

His attitude alarmed infectious disease experts, and it suggested his own illness had not caused him to rethink his often-cavalier attitude toward the disease which has also infected the first lady and more than a dozen White House aides and associates.