Plexiglass to separate Pence, Harris at VP debate
Plexiglass will separate US Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris at Wednesday's debate, a campaign aide said, reflecting changes aimed at protecting the rivals against the spread of the coronavirus.
The Commission on Presidential Debates has reportedly approved the plans, with backing of the Cleveland Clinic which is helping set debate health protocols, after President Donald Trump announced Friday that he had contracted Covid-19.
Amid negotiations over debate terms, Harris, a US senator from California who is Democrat Joe Biden's running mate, was said to have supported the plexiglass addition while Pence's camp opposed.
"Plexiglass will be used" between the candidates on stage in Salt Lake City, Utah, a Harris campaign aide told AFP Monday.
Politico first reported the barrier news, also writing that the commission changed the layout so that the candidates will be seated 13 feet (four meters) apart instead of seven feet.
"If Sen. Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it," Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller told Politico.
Pence and Harris have each tested negative for Covid-19 since the Trump-Biden debate last Tuesday in Cleveland.
Democrats have expressed fear that Trump might have been contagious when he debated Biden, though the ex-vice president has since tested negative.
The White House has not stated whether Trump will be available for the next debate, set for October 15, given his diagnosis.
Biden signalled he would be willing to participate in the second debate, provided health experts approve.
"I'll do whatever the experts say is appropriate for me to do," he told reporters Monday.
"If scientists say that it's safe... then I think that's fine," Biden said, adding that "we should be very cautious."