Late update: The White House said Trump tested negative for COVID-19 while on his way to the debate.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced on Thursday morning that he has tested negative for COVID-19 ahead of his final debate with President Donald Trump before the Nov. 3 election.
The Biden campaign said that the candidate underwent PCR testing for coronavirus on Thursday and no virus was detected.
Rules put in place by the Commission on Presidential Debates requires that both candidates test negative for COVID-19 before taking the debate stage in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday night — although President Trump has yet to announce a recent negative test.
The Associated Press reported that the White House was asked Thursday morning whether Trump had been tested for coronavirus in preparation for the debate. Administration officials have shied away from discussing the topic amid scrutiny that the President might have either failed to test for coronavirus ahead of the first debate as required, or had wittingly gone into the debate with knowledge of a possible infection after what public health experts have called a “super-spreader event” at the White House days before to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
The AP reported that the White House did not say whether Trump had been tested again ahead of the debate.
On Monday, when a reporter in Arizona asked the President if he would be taking a test before Thursday’s debate, Trump said, “I would have no problem with it.”
“I’m totally free,” Trump said, referring to test results released by the White House physician last week indicating he tested negative for the virus on consecutive days.
During an NBC town hall last week, Trump would not say when he was tested for coronavirus ahead of the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, during which many of his family members and close associates refused to wear masks in the debate hall. The President announced just two days later that he had contracted the coronavirus.
“Possibly I did, possibly I didn’t,” Trump told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie last week when asked if he took a test on the day of his first face-off with Biden in Cleveland, Ohio.
Commission on Presidential Debates Co-Chair Frank Fahrenkopf said during an interview Thursday that in spite of the commission’s rule requiring a negative COVID-19 test ahead of the debate that he “can’t answer” whether or not proof of the test would be required of each candidate ahead of the contest.
“I’m not a doctor so I don’t get into that. I leave it to the experts,” he told MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson when asked how the CPD would enforce its COVID-19 testing rules for the candidates.
“I don’t know what would happen,” Fahrenkopf added, when pressed on the possibility of President Trump refusing to take or report results of a COVID-19 test.
Amid his recovery from COVID-19, Trump has insisted he is “immune” to coronavirus, even though scientific evidence has not supported the validity of such a claim.
“I’m immune, they say. They say if you’ve had it, you are immune,” Trump insisted on Monday.