President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will not debate with plexiglass barriers between their lecterns on Thursday night at Belmont University in Nashville. The plexiglass barriers were placed by the lecterns before the debate but were removed after the campaigns said each candidate tested negative. The debate is the final face-off between the two candidates before the Nov. 3 election.
Early Thursday morning, NBC News reported the plexiglass barriers were placed between the two lecterns "at the recommendation of the commission's medical advisors," according to Commission on Presidential Debates co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. Just a couple hours before the debate was scheduled to begin, the barriers were removed because Biden and Trump tested negative. The decision was also made in consultation with Dr. Anthony Fauci, reports NBC News, and the two campaigns agreed.
UPDATE: The debate commission has removed the plexiglass barriers after their medical advisors (1) learned Trump and Biden tested negative for COVID today and (2) consulted w Dr. Fauci.— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) October 22, 2020
The medical team changed its recommendation, per CPD, and both campaigns have agreed. https://t.co/v2AmeQb64c
Early Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Trump tested negative before he flew on Air Force One with First Lady Melania Trump to Nashville, reports NBC News. When Trump arrived in Nashville, he walked off the plane without wearing a face mask. Biden's campaign also confirmed the former vice president tested negative, reports The Hill. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, both wore masks when they left their plane.
Trump tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month, just days after the first debate with Biden in Cleveland on Sept. 29. The White House was frequently asked when Trump last tested negative before he tested positive. During a town hall event moderated by NBC News' Savannah Guthrie, Trump was asked if he was tested the day of the debate. "Possibly I did, possibly I didn't," Trump said.
Thursday night's presidential debate is the second and final debate. It will be moderated by NBC News journalist Kristen Welker, who has chosen the topics. The topics include fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security, and leadership. The 90-minute event is broken into six 15-minute segments, which will each start with two-minute statements from one candidate while the other candidate's microphone is muted.