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U.S. vice presidential debate to include plexiglass barrier after White House outbreak

(Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence and challenger Kamala Harris will be separated by a plexiglass barrier during their debate on Wednesday in an effort to lower the risk of coronavirus transmission, the commission overseeing the event said.

The debate, the only one scheduled between the vice presidential candidates, is scheduled for Salt Lake City, six days after President Donald Trump announced he had contracted the virus.

Both Harris, a Democratic U.S. senator, and Pence, a Republican, have tested negative in recent days, with the vice president working from home over the weekend instead of at the White House. A number of White House staffers and prominent Republicans, including three U.S. senators, have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Commission on Presidential Debates also said the two candidates would be seated more than 12 feet (3.7 m) apart. There will be a limited number of guests at the debate, all of whom will undergo testing, and anyone who does not wear a mask will be “escorted out,” the commission said.

At the first presidential debate between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden last week, several members of Trump’s family did not wear masks while sitting in the audience.

In a statement, Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, said: “If Senator Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it.”

In response, Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for Harris, wrote on Twitter: “Interesting that @VPComDir Katie Miller mocks our wanting a plexiglass barrier on the debate stage, when her own boss is supposedly in charge of the COVID-19 task force and should be advocating for this too.”

Miller herself had COVID-19 in the spring.

DEBATE SAFETY

Also on Monday, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the president intends to participate