11 Positive Coronavirus Tests Traced to Presidential Debate, Cleveland Officials Say

From NBC News
The city's announcement came shortly after the Cleveland Clinic said there was a "low risk of exposure to" debate attendees.

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

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

"The City of Cleveland is aware of positive cases of Covid-19 following the Sept. 29 presidential debate," according to a City Hall statement. "We advise anyone who has come in contact with someone who has tested positive to selfquarantine. If anyone who was in attendance has concerns or is symptomatic, they should contact their healthcare provider."

The city's announcement also came shortly after the Cleveland Clinic, which oversaw Covid-19 protocols at the debate, said it's confident that guests at Tuesday night's event were safe from the coronavirus.

"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," the Cleveland Clinic said in a statement.

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

"In total, at this time, we are aware of 11 cases stemming from pre-debate planning and set-up, with the majority of cases occurring among out of state residents," the city said. "At this time, though that could change, no City residents appear to have contracted the virus as a result of this event."

The Cleveland Clinic later Friday clarified that "the 11 people 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," Clinic said Friday night. "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."

A prominent Ohio lawmaker who attended the debate went into self-isolation on Friday after learning about Trump's positive test.

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes said she personally witnessed members of the president's entourage declining masks from health care providers — from the Cleveland Clinic — inside the hall at Case Western Reserve University.

"I am frustrated today as I worry now about my own health and the health of so many others who were present that evening like journalists, support staff, Cleveland Clinic professionals, and many others who could have potentially been exposed," Sykes said in a statement on Friday.

This didn’t have to happen," Sykes said. "If more would follow the guidelines, this wouldn’t continue to happen."