Trump arrived for debate too late to be tested for COVID, Wallace says

Chris Wallace, moderator of the first presidential debate, said that President Trump and his campaign staff arrived in Cleveland for Tuesday’s debate without enough time to be tested for the coronavirus.

“They didn't arrive until Tuesday afternoon,” Wallace said on Fox News Friday afternoon, after the White House announced that Trump, the first lady and top aide Hope Hicks had all tested positive. “So for them to get tested, there wouldn't have been enough time to have the test and have the debate at 9:00 that night. They didn't show up until 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 in the afternoon. Yeah, there was an honor system when it came to people that came into the hall from the two campaigns.”

Late Friday afternoon, the White House announced Trump was being moved to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a few days as a “precautionary measure.”

Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill, also arrived with less than two hours to go before the debate, but both Bidens tested negative for the coronavirus, the campaign said Friday.

Wallace said that he and Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer were tested because they had arrived in the days prior to the debate.

Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 early Friday morning after Bloomberg reported Thursday night that White House aide Hope Hicks had tested positive. During Tuesday night’s debate, members of Trump’s team — including the first lady — flouted Ohio ordinances and did not wear masks despite requests from the Cleveland Clinic, where the event was hosted.

Chris Wallace
Debate moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. (Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)

“People in the hall noticed that they weren’t wearing masks and everybody else in the hall was wearing a mask,” Wallace said. “When the debate ended, Mrs. Trump came over, walked past me, she was not wearing a mask. Mrs. Biden walked past me to her husband and she was wearing a mask. So there was a difference in the way the two families and their camps treated the health safety regulations inside the hall.”

Wallace said he planned to get tested.

During the debate, Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask in public.

“Every time you see him, he’s got a mask,” Trump said as Biden laughed. “He could be speaking 200 feet away from it. And he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”

More than 207,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 as Trump has repeatedly insisted for months that the nation has turned a corner and the virus would simply disappear.

Earlier Friday afternoon, Trump's physician said that the president was fatigued but in good spirits and that his situation was being closely monitored. Dr. Sean Conley said Trump was being treated with “Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail” and supplements of zinc and vitamin D, aspirin, melatonin (generally used as a sleep aid) and famotidine (which suppresses stomach acid).

He did not mention hydroxychloroquine, the “miracle drug” Trump had promoted early in the pandemic and which he claimed to have taken as a preventive in May.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife announced that they had tested negative for the virus on Friday morning. However, two other attendees at a White House event Saturday — Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and University of Notre Dame president John Jenkins — said Friday they had tested positive for the virus. Neither Lee nor Jenkins were wearing masks during a Rose Garden ceremony introducing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.


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