Former vice president Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, both tested negative for the coronavirus, ending hours of concern that the 77-year-old Democratic presidential candidate might have contracted the illness during Tuesday’s debate with Republican President Donald Trump, who has tested positive.
Biden and Trump shared the stage at Case Western Reserve University. Both raised their voices during the debate and neither wore a mask. But social distancing guidelines kept the two men from shaking hands before and after, and their lecterns were reportedly a dozen feet apart.
Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, tweeted around 1 a.m. Friday that both he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19. But the Biden campaign did not react publicly or on social media until around 10 a.m., when Biden posted that he and his wife were sending thoughts and prayers to the Trumps.
Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 2, 2020
The Bidens and campaign officials remained publicly silent until around 12:30 p.m., when Biden returned to Twitter and provided an update that addressed fears that candidates from both major political parties had been infected with a virus that has killed more than 200,000 Americans so far this year.
I’m happy to report that Jill and I have tested negative for COVID. Thank you to everyone for your messages of concern. I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 2, 2020
Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s personal physician, separately confirmed that both Biden and his wife were currently free of the highly contagious disease.
“Vice president Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected,” O’Connor said in a statement released by the Biden camp.
One infectious disease specialist cautioned Friday that Biden’s negative test does not necessarily mean he is out of the woods.
“Of course it is news when a prominent person tests negative when they’ve been potentially exposed, but a single test is not that helpful. It is really is dependent on the incubation period. You can get a somewhat accurate result three to five days after exposure, but to be 100 percent you need to test up until day fourteen, which is the outer limit of the incubation period,” Dr. Daniel Diekema, the director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Iowa, told the Globe.
Biden was scheduled to make a campaign appearance in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Friday, and he planned to move forward with that event, according to his campaign.
Biden’s running mate, California US Senator Kamala Harris, did not report whether she and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, responded to the stunning developments by being tested themselves Friday.
She tweeted that she shared the Bidens' concerns for the Trumps' health.
Doug and I join Joe Biden and Dr. Biden in wishing President Trump and the First Lady a full and speedy recovery. We’re keeping them and the entire Trump family in our thoughts.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 2, 2020
Hanna Krueger of the Globe staff contributed.