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Vice presidential debate to have heightened COVID-19 precautions

Vice presidential debate to have heightened COVID-19 precautions
Preparations take place for the first presidential debate on the campus of Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 28. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The Commission on Presidential Debates has agreed to heighten the COVID-19 safety precautions for Wednesday's debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence.

Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden had proposed raising the bar for coronavirus protection to seat the two vice presidential candidates farther than 7 feet apart during their debate. His request came prior to Trump testing positive for COVID-19.

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After Trump's diagnosis -- days after the first presidential debate -- the commission agreed Friday to heighten the level of protection by seating Harris and Pence 12 feet apart.

A source familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN the change in seating arrangements.

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Though social distancing guidelines call for individuals to be at least 6 feet apart, the Biden campaign said that medical professionals recommend a larger distance when people spend longer periods of time together indoors.

Pence and Harris are slated to debate each other for 90 minutes Wednesday in Salt Lake City, and the debate will go on as scheduled, the Deseret News reported.

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Harris went to Nevada on Friday and a campaign official said that she will travel to Utah and remain there until the debate.

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Biden campaign officials also raised concern about the lack of enforcement of the rule to wear masks at the indoor presidential debate Tuesday in Cleveland.

During the presidential debate, a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic asked several members of the Trump family in the audience to put on masks, but they declined.

Trump, his wife, first lady Melania, and senior aide Hope Hicks have since tested positive for COVID-19, among about a dozen other people linked to the White House or events held there.

Biden and Harris have tested negative and wished the president and first lady well in their recovery.

"Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery," Biden tweeted. "We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family."

Harris made similar comments in her own post.

"Doug and I join Joe Biden and Dr. Biden in wishing President Trump and the First Lady a full and speedy recovery," Harris tweeted. "We're keeping them and the entire Trump family in our thoughts."

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President Donald Trump hospitalized for COVID-19

President Donald Trump returns to the Truman Balcony of the White House on Monday after three days of treatment for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

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