Mike Pence and Kamala Harris vice presidential debate will have plexiglass barrier because of coronavirus concerns

A worker hangs a banner as preparations take place for the vice presidential debate outside Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

Patrick Semansky | AP

A plexiglass barrier will separate Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris at their vice presidential debate Wednesday, the second such measure taken to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission on the heels of President Donald Trump contracting Covid-19, NBC News confirmed on Monday.

A person familiar with the debate planning told NBC News that the California Democrat Harris’ campaign asked for the plexiglass to be used and that the Commission on Presidential Debates approved the request.

The commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Politico first reported that the plexiglass would be used at the debate, which will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday night.

The news outlet said that the Pence campaign opposed the precaution.

Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, told NBC News, as she had already told Politico, “If Sen. Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it.”

Miller herself was diagnosed with the coronavirus in May.

The debates commission already had said that Pence and Harris would be positioned 13 feet apart, as opposed to the original plan to have them seated 7 feet from each other for their first and only face-to-face showdown.

Trump disclosed Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. He had debated former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, last Tuesday night in Cleveland.

Biden and Pence have both tested negative for the virus since then.

In addition to the Trumps, at least 16 other people in the White House or who have attended the Trump-Biden debate or Trump-related events have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including the president’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, top Trump advisors Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

Over the weekend, Jaime Harrison, the Democratic nominee for the Senate in South Carolina, brought his own plexiglass barrier for his debate with incumbent Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham.

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