President Donald Trump will participate in a town hall with Florida voters airing live on NBC, but the network made Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health and one-time head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, sign off on Trump’s health first.
Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden was already scheduled for a town hall of his own Thursday on ABC, following a major disagreement between the campaigns over the Committee on Presidential Debates’ decision to make the event “virtual” — something that concerned Trump’s re-election campaign. The president eventually dropped out of the debate and Biden promptly scheduled his own individual town-hall-style event to replace the presidential one.
Initially, Trump promised some form of rally to compete with Biden’s town hall, but instead, the president will have a “socially distanced” town hall at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, Florida, hosted by NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie, per Forbes.
“The event will take place outdoors and social distancing guidelines will be followed, with Guthrie and Trump positioned at least 12 feet apart,” the outlet noted. “The audience will also be distanced from Trump and Guthrie, and will all be wearing masks and required to complete a health questionnaire and temperature check.”
Before NBC would agree to host Trump’s event, though, they approached the National Institutes of Health — and Dr. Fauci — to confirm that the president would not be “shedding” the novel coronavirus and that his White House physician was correct in suggesting that the president was no longer at risk of spreading COVID-19.
“According to NBC, Dr. Clifford Lane, Clinical Director at the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement that after reviewing Trump’s medical data with Dr. Anthony Fauci, including a PCR test for Covid-19 collected Tuesday, they have ‘concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that the president is ‘not shedding infectious virus.’”
The White House physician, Dr. Sean Conley, announced that Trump was no longer contagious earlier this week. The president has already held at least one in-person event since then — a rally, also in Florida, on Monday — and insists that he is “feeling fine” and that he has fully recovered from his bout with the virus. Conley said in his statement that the president passed “viral load, subgenomic RNA and PCR cycle threshold measurements,” and that his results indicate “a lack of detectable virus replication.”
NBC was, apparently, loathe to take those results at face value because Conley said, in his statement, that the White House had used the Abbott BinexNOW test to determine whether the president was contagious and did not initially mention any other assessments. Fauci and Lane, however, seemed to indicate that the president is testing well across the board.
Although the situation is subject to change, the president and Joe Biden will likely meet again for a presidential debate on October 22, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. There is also the possibility of a third debate on October 29th, just days before the November election.
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