Former Vice President Joe Biden tested negative for coronavirus on Friday, as the Democratic nominee called President Donald Trump's positive test "a bracing reminder" of the need to fight the virus better during a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Biden told members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 951 union that he took two virus tests and "everything was clear." But he canceled a second event as a preventative measure because it was indoors with a crowd.
"We wanted to make sure everything was clear before I came," said Biden, who wore a mask throughout his speech. “It was concluded by the docs that it was best not to do it," he said of the second event.
Dr. Kevin O'Connor, the primary care physician, said Biden and his wife Jill were each tested and "COVID-19 was not detected."
"Thank you to everyone for your messages of concern," Biden said in a tweet. "I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands."
Biden sent his prayers to Trump and first lady Melania Trump, after they tested positive for the virus. But he said it was an important reminder to fight the virus more effectively.
"This is not a matter of politics," Biden said. "It’s a bracing reminder for all of us that we have to take this virus seriously It’s not going away automatically."
Biden argued that the country needs regular testing with rapid results to protect meatpackers, food processors and other workers. He called again for governors to impose requirements that everyone wears masks for the next three months, to prevent more spread of the virus.
"Be patriotic. It’s not about being a tough guy. It’s about doing your part," Biden said. “Every single American deserves safety and peace of mind."
Trump is quarantining with mild symptoms in the residence portion of the White House. Mark Meadows, the president's chief of staff, said Friday that he was in good spirits.
Bill Stepien, Trump's campaign manager, said previously announced campaign events are being postponed or changed to virtual events. Trump was scheduled to travel Saturday to Wisconsin for events in Janesville and Green Bay.
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call for people to quarantine themselves for 14 days after coming into contact with someone who might have been infected with the virus. The CDC also recommends staying 6 feet apart from other people, wearing a face mask covering the nose and mouth, and washing hands often.
Running mates who didn't attend the presidential debate, and who are scheduled to debate Wednesday in Salt Lake City, are continuing to travel.
“Vice President Mike Pence does not need to quarantine,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jesse Schonau, a White House physician.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who tested negative for the virus Friday, was traveling to Las Vegas for a fundraiser with former President Barack Obama and to deliver a speech.
The Trump announcement came just as Biden's campaign was beginning to canvass voters face to face. The campaign had resisted that step so far because of the health risks, but get-out-the-vote efforts can be crucial to boosting turnout.
The contrast between how Trump responded to the pandemic and how Biden proposed to deal with it offered one of the starkest contrasts between the candidates throughout the campaign.
Over the past several months, Biden has criticized Trump said he should have set a better example for wearing a mask and keeping a distance from others. But Trump accused Biden of hiding in his basement in Wilmington, Delaware, with only brief excursions for speeches.
The subject rekindled at the debate Tuesday, when Biden cited projections that widespread mask-wearing could prevent half of the 200,000 additional deaths expected by the end year. Biden had already proposed in August a nationwide effort to have everyone wear masks for three months, although it would take governors to implement such orders.
"Just wear a mask," Biden said at the debate.
Trump said he wears a mask when necessary, and pulled one out of his pocket. He said those around him are tested routinely. But he ridiculed Biden for wearing one much more frequently. Trump also said Biden hasn't held rallies because he couldn't attract the large crowds the president generates, filled with people who stand close together and who often don't wear masks.
"I don’t wear a mask like him," Trump said. "Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen."
For his part, Biden took a whistle-stop train tour Wednesday after the debate to six cities across Ohio and Pennsylvania. The trip offered him a chance to give speeches to larger crowds that kept a distance from his podium. But he also met with small groups of people while wearing a mask.
Biden and Trump each recorded speeches Thursday for the Al Smith Memorial Dinner, a charitable Catholic event in New York that offered another contrast in how the two candidates speak about the pandemic.
Trump said the country would defeat the virus through advances in treatment and he said a vaccine is on track for distribution "before the end of the year."
"I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight, and next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country," Trump said.
But with more than 200,000 deaths nationwide already from the virus, Biden noted how many families have lost a loved one from the "unrelenting virus." He called the pandemic one of a handful of crises facing the country with the recession, a reckoning on race and the changing climate.
“These are difficult times for our country," Biden said. "With each crisis, our faith is tested."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Democrat Joe Biden tests negative for virus, after President Trump