US Presidential Election 2020
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US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks at a campaign stop in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Monday. Photo: Reuters

Passenger on Joe Biden’s campaign plane tests positive for coronavirus

  • Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris has cancelled campaign plans after two staff members caught Covid-19
  • The three infections are first confirmed cases in Biden campaign, after US President Donald Trump and dozens of White House staff contracted virus last month

A passenger on Joe Biden’s campaign plane has tested positive for Covid-19, the Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign announced on Thursday.

An administrator for the aviation charter company the campaign uses was on the plane this week for trips to Ohio and Florida but sat more than 50 feet (15 metres) from the former vice-president, used a different entrance and exit, and both Biden and the person were wearing masks at all times, campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement.

She added that health advisers said there was no need for Biden to quarantine.

The announcement of the diagnosis of someone who was on the same plane but not in contact with Biden was part of the campaign’s effort to contrast with US President Donald Trump’s handling of the virus. The positive coronavirus test of one of Trump’s closest aides, which was closely followed by his own diagnosis, came out through leaks to reporters.

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris on the campaign trail. Photo: TNS

Biden tested negative for Covid-19 on Wednesday night, the campaign said.

The charter company employee’s positive test result came after the campaign conducted contract tracing following the positive diagnoses of a senior aide to running mate Kamala Harris and a member of her flight crew. Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, tested negative for the virus on Thursday, but the campaign cancelled her travel through the weekend.

“Given that the vice-president had no physical proximity at all with this administrative crew member, and that his plane is larger than Senator Harris’ plane, and the distance from the individual is significant (over 50 feet), there is no reason to even undertake such a caution,” O’Malley Dillon said in the statement.

The cases are the first confirmed coronavirus illnesses in the Biden campaign. They come after Trump and dozens of White House staff contracted the virus last month.

‘I feel so powerful’: Trump returns to campaign trail at Florida rally

Harris has been in Washington this week for the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, which she attended virtually out of concern about Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who did not abide by coronavirus safety protocols.

Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, will also cancel the travel he had planned for Thursday. All of his Covid-19 tests have been negative as well, and he will return to in-person campaigning on Friday. The campaign has begun the contact tracing process to notify everyone who came into contact with the people during the time they may have been infected.

The Biden campaign has sought to convey a sense of responsibility and caution around the virus, requiring that all staff, press and event attendees wear masks, and abiding by local rules about group gatherings.