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City of Cleveland announces 11 positive cases of COVID-19 stemming from preparations for presidential debate

However, the Cleveland Clinic says none of the 11 had access to the debate hall.

CLEVELAND — With the news that President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19, the city of Cleveland has issued a statement after the pair were among those in town for Tuesday's presidential debate.

According to the city, 11 positive cases of COVID-19 have stemmed from 'pre-debate planning and set-up.' The city adds that the majority of those 11 cases have occurred among out of state residents. No city residents appear to have contracted coronavirus as a result of the debate, but that could still change. 

Cleveland Clinic issued a statement on Friday confirming that it was required maintain a safe environment during the debate that aligned with CDC guidelines- including social distancing, hand sanitizing, temperature checks and masking. The Clinic added that everyone permitted inside the debate hall tested negative for COVID-19 prior to entry.

This evening, the Clinic released a second statement, saying those who tested positive did not have access to the debate space inside Samson Pavilion:

"It’s important to clarify the 11 people who tested positive never accessed the debate hall. These individuals were either members of the media or were scheduled to work logistics/set-up the days prior to the event. Individuals did not receive credentials or tickets to enter the debate hall until they had a negative test, and all were advised to isolate while they awaited their test results."

Despite the statement by Cleveland Clinic, some members of the president's family were seen seated in the audience without wearing a mask. Images show the family wearing masks when they entered the venue, other photos, however, show their facial coverings were removed while in physically distanced seats to watch the debate. 

Read the entire statement from the city below:

"The City of Cleveland is aware of positive cases of COVID-19 following the Sept. 29 presidential debate. In total, at this time, we are aware of 11 cases stemming from pre-debate planning and set-up, with the majority of cases occurring among out of state residents. At this time, though that could change, no City residents appear to have contracted the virus as a result of this event.

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. 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.

CDPH will continue to follow its contact tracing process which includes the following steps:

  • A person who has tested positive and is a Cleveland resident will be contacted by interview team who will confirm they are City residents.
  • They will then ask about who they live with, who they care for in and out of the home, who they work with and the type of work they do.
  • They will also be asked if they participated in any mass gatherings of people.
  • In the event the person’s case stems from the debate, the individual will be asked: who they are employed by, who they were in contact with at the debate, how they got to the debate, how long they were there, if they did any traveling recently or attended any other mass gathering.
  • We advise anyone who has come in contact with someone who has tested positive to selfquarantine. If anyone who was in attendance has concerns or is symptomatic, they should contact their healthcare provider.

We know there are measures that are effective to prevent the spread of infection that include wearing masks, maintaining proper social distancing and regular hand washing. With this event, we know a large number of those in attendance live in another state. That is why our partnerships with ODH and the CDC are vital.

It is important to note that everyone affiliated with the debate – with credentials to be in the event perimeter - was tested upon arrival. Only those with negative test results were allowed within the pavilion. While CDPH was not on-site for the debate, we were in contact with organizers and those responsible for enforcing safety measures inside the venue."


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