Updated at 3:23 p.m. ET
After two negative coronavirus tests this morning, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden proceeded with a campaign stop in Grand Rapids, Mich. Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, also tested negative today.
The former vice president shared the debate stage with President Trump on Tuesday, just a few days before Trump announced he tested positive for the coronavirus. Jill Biden was in attendance.
“This is not a matter of politics,” Biden told the small audience gathered outside a union hall in Michigan. “It’s a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously; it’s not going away automatically. We have to do our part to be responsible.”
Biden’s negative test was announced by the campaign earlier in the day.
“Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected,” Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the Bidens’ primary care physician, wrote in a statement Friday afternoon. A negative test does not mean the Bidens are completely in the clear, as the virus may not be detectable soon after exposure.
Biden tweeted shortly after: “I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.”
Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, also tested negative for the coronavirus Friday. She will continue with a scheduled campaign stop in Nevada on Friday.
Explaining the travel to Michigan, a campaign official said Biden was not in close contact with Trump, wore a mask at all times apart from on stage, and that the campaign incorporates best practices for all events.
Biden, wearing a disposable mask, said a second planned campaign stop in Michigan that would have been held indoors was cancelled based on the advice of medical experts. Before launching into a planned speech on the economy, Biden reiterated the importance of wearing masks.
“Be patriotic,” Biden said. “It’s not about being a tough guy; it’s about doing your part. Wearing a mask is not only going to protect you, but it also protects those around you. Your mom, your dad, brother, sister, husband, wife, neighbor coworker. Don’t just do it for yourself. Do it for the people you love, the people you work with.”
He also said Trump’s positive test is a reminder that regular testing isn’t yet available nationwide and that the president has failed to get a handle on managing the pandemic.
“It’s not just the folks in the White House or who travel with me who deserve regular testing,” Biden said. “It’s the folks in the meat packing plants, grocery store workers. Every single American deserves safety and piece of mind.”
Biden and Harris on Friday morning wished the president and first lady Melania Trump a swift recovery after the Trumps said they tested positive for the coronavirus.
Biden and Trump shared a debate stage, maskless, for about 90 minutes on Tuesday night. Their lecterns were more than 6 feet apart, and the two men did not shake hands before or after as a safety measure.
But the president’s family and top aides sat maskless in the front of the audience, even after a Cleveland Clinic staffer offered them facial coverings — a glaring contrast with every other debate guest and staffer in the venue, who were all wearing masks.
Biden’s campaign has taken coronavirus precautions seriously, for political and policy reasons, but also due to the simple fact that virus symptoms have proven to be far more serious for older people and Biden is 77. (Trump is 74.)
Biden did not hold a campaign event outside his home until Memorial Day. His events all summer were carefully orchestrated to minimize risk, with small, sometimes nonexistent audiences, all masked, standing and sitting in designated circles in order to ensure social distancing.
In recent weeks, Biden has begun a more traditional campaign schedule. He has flown to Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and other swing states, and just completed a whistle-stop train tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania.
That put Biden in contact with many more people, though the campaign continued to take more stringent safety measures than Trump has. The campaign handed out N95 masks to everyone traveling on the train, for example. And Biden — sometimes only due to the consistent prodding of campaign staff — has not shaken hands with any of the voters he interacts with, though he has often stood much closer than 6 feet during conversations.