So, some stuff has happened since the last one of these. Not going to get into all of it now, but suffice to say some circumstances have changed ahead of tonight’s debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris.
For one, the candidates are going to be separated by a wider gap than previously planned, up from 7 feet to 12 feet, 3 inches. A pair of plexiglass partitions have also been added to the stage. The additional measures were put in place as multiple members of the White House—including the president, the first lady, the press secretary, and others—have tested positive for Covid-19 since last week. President Trump was hospitalized for the virus over the weekend. While Pence attended some of the same events as those who tested positive, White House physicians and the CDC have both issued memos that he does not need to quarantine and is safe to participate in tonight’s debate after a series of negative tests. As of this writing, Pence’s most recent test was Tuesday afternoon, according to White House physicians. The Biden campaign announced that Harris also tested negative on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
The debate will air live beginning at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT), with USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page moderating. The planned format for the evening is divided into nine themed segments of approximately 10 minutes each, with no commercial breaks. The topics of those segments have not been announced in advance, but let’s assume that at least one of them is about the virus. Pence was named head of the White House coronavirus task force in February. So far, more than 200,000 Americans have died in the pandemic.
The debate is taking place at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, before a small live audience that will include some students. The university is in the middle of a two-week shift to online courses, as part of what school officials are calling a “circuit breaker” designed to reduce the risk of transmission. Everyone at the debate venue is supposed to be tested for coronavirus and take other precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing. Pence, Harris, and Page will be able to take off their masks once they’re onstage.
How to Watch the Debate
With a comfort beverage of your choosing.