Cleveland Officials Link 11 Coronavirus Cases To This Week’s Presidential Debate

US President Donald Trump (R) and former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3.
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Officials in Cleveland, Ohio, have linked 11 cases of coronavirus to this week’s presidential debate, which reportedly stemmed from the pre-event planning and setup.

As WKYC reported, the city government issued a statement on Friday after President Donald Trump had announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had contracted the virus. Officials said that the majority of the 11 cases were out-of-state residents and that no Cleveland residents appeared to have been affected.

The city noted that officials were working with state and federal agencies to identify those who had been infected and conduct contact tracing to prevent further infections.

“As the cases involve people in and out of state some of whom may be continuing to travel, the City of Cleveland is working with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Cleveland Clinic,” the statement read, via WKYC. “As part of CDPH’s process regarding COVID-19, any individuals who tested positive as part of the debate were contacted, interviewed when possible, issued isolation orders and provided guidance regarding their isolation period. There were also conversations with individuals who tested positive regarding their upcoming travel.”

The report noted that Trump and some of his family members have come under scrutiny for their failure to adhere to social distancing guidelines at certain events, including at Tuesday’s face-off with Joe Biden. Members of the president’s family were seen sitting in the crowd while not wearing masks or other forms of facial covering, despite the Cleveland Clinic saying that masking was among the requirements for those attending. Everyone inside the debate venue had also tested negative for COVID-19 before arrival, the hospital system said in a statement.

Donald Trump walks on the White House lawn.
  Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

There was no indication of whether the president or first lady were connected to the surge in Cleveland, though a number of people close to the White House have also contracted the virus within the past few days. Ahead of Trump’s announcement of his COVID-19 diagnosis, reports indicated that top aide Hope Hicks had also tested positive, and Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel had been infected as well.

Trump’s campaign has been criticized for months for continuing to hold large events that often took place against the warnings of public health experts and in violation of local ordinances banning large gatherings. Some of these events have also been connected to local surges in infections, as was the case after his return to the campaign trail with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June.