U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign speech at the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry on the death toll from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the United States that affects more than 200,000 people in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, United States , September 21, 2020.
Mark Makela | Reuters
WASHINGTON – Democratic candidate Joe Biden made a brief campaign visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan on Friday after testing negative for the coronavirus in two separate tests.
"I would first like to acknowledge (and send) my prayers for the health and safety of the First Lady and the President of the United States," Biden said at a United Food and Commercial Workers International Union event. "My wife Jill and I pray that you will recover quickly and fully."
"It's not a question of politics," Biden continued. "It is an invigorating reminder to all of us that we must take this virus seriously."
President Donald Trump and the First Lady both tested positive for coronavirus infections late Thursday, as did Hope Hicks, the White House's top adviser. On Friday, Trump was taken to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Shortly after Biden's speech, a top campaign advisor, Ron Klain, confirmed that the Biden campaign will stop its negative publicity against the president for the time being.
Biden informed the assembled guests at Grand Rapids that he was late for the speech (originally scheduled for 1:30 p.m.) because he was waiting for the results of two separate coronavirus tests.
"We wanted to make sure we were doing everything based on the numbers, so I got two or two COVID tests this morning. One in Delaware and one from the former White House doctor who showed up. And all is clear, we wanted jobs Make sure everything is clear before I come, "said Biden at the beginning of his remarks.
Biden also tweeted about the negative result earlier in the day.
The Biden campaign said the former Vice President and his wife Jill Biden were both tested out of caution on Friday morning.
However, a negative test after possible exposure to the virus is not enough to ensure a person has not contracted Covid-19, said Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota.
"All the people who said they were at the debate or the rally here in Minnesota or a fundraiser here in Minnesota this week, none of those tests are really that meaningful to me because they say they are negative," Osterholm said on CNBC's "Power Lunch".
Once a person is exposed, it can take up to 14 days for them to show signs or symptoms of infection. "Most people will show signs of illness when they get sick and test positive in seven or eight days."
During Tuesday's presidential debate in Cleveland, Biden was on stage in the same room as Trump for almost two hours.
Neither a man wore a mask on stage, nor did the presenter Chris Wallace debate. But Trump and Biden's podiums were about 8 feet apart and didn't get close. The Centers for Disease Control's current guidance on social distancing is 6 feet.
Biden's runner-up, Senator Kamala Harris, left Washington at noon for Las Vegas, where she was due to hold an event on Friday night.
Harris was tested for Covid-19 on Thursday, and she tested negative, election officials said. She also tested negative Friday.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, who participated in the debate with Biden, also tested negative on Friday, a spokeswoman said.
Both Biden and Harris sent best wishes to the President and First Lady on Friday.
Former President Barack Obama also sent Trump's best wishes. "Let me just start by saying that while we are in the middle of a major political battle and we take it very seriously, we would also like to extend our best wishes to the President of the United States and the First Lady," Obama said at the launch of one virtual fundraiser.
Earlier in the day, Jen O & # 39; Malley Dillon, Biden's campaign manager, emailed staff assuring that the campaign had taken all health precautions to protect Biden, Harris and their families. She also asked her not to post on social media about Trump's diagnosis without prior approval.
The email received from NBC News underscores the political sensitivity of the president's diagnosis in the context of the presidential race.
During Tuesday's debate, Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask that the CDC recommends as a key element in preventing infection.
"I don't wear face masks like him," Trump said of Biden. "He's got a mask every time you see him. He could speak 200 feet away … and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen."
Trump also mocked Biden for not holding major rallies, as Trump has been doing since late August.
Many, if not most, of the people at Trump's rally are huddled together and not wearing masks. Some of them have been held against state and municipal orders prohibiting large gatherings.
Meanwhile, Biden has strictly enforced social distancing, masks, and crowd restrictions at his events. As a result, his campaign events featured widely spaced chairs and typically only a few dozen people.
– CNBC's Kevin Stankiewicz contributed to the coverage.