Coronavirus is ripping through the ranks of the White House. More than 200,000 Americans have died from the disease. And questions are still swirling around President Donald Trump’s own health after he contracted Covid.
With that as the backdrop, Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris are facing off in Salt Lake City — behind plexiglass — for the first and only vice presidential debate.
We’ll be capturing the key moments in real time.
‘We beg you, please’: Debate audience gets stern warning about mask-wearing
Before the fireworks began between Pence and Harris, attendees received a stern warning about keeping their masks on during the proceedings.
“If you take your mask off someone, will approach you and ask you to please put your mask back on,” Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, told the audience before the debate kicked off, according to a press pool report.
Fahrenkopf referred audience members to conditions laid out on their ticket, saying that those who refused such a request would be kicked out of the debate.
“We beg you, please do not take off your mask,” he added.
The warning comes following reports that members of President Donald Trump’s family refused requests at last week’s presidential debate that they put their masks back on in the debate hall.
Harris calls Covid-19 ‘greatest failure’ of any U.S. administration
Harris came out swinging against the Trump White House from the first moments of the debate, calling the administration’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.”
Harris pointed to the human and economic loss of the pandemic. Across the country, more than 210,000 Americans are dead, over 7 million have contracted the disease, one in five businesses have closed, and over 30 million people have filed for unemployment in the past few months, she said.
Harris accused the Trump administration of covering up the seriousness of the virus as far back as January.
“Here’s the thing. On Jan. 28, the vice president and the president were informed about the nature of this pandemic,” Harris said. “They knew and they covered it up. The president said it was a hoax. They minimized the seriousness of it.”
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