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COVID-19 casts shadow on presidential debate in Cleveland

Look for changes to keep candidates and crowd healthy.

CLEVELAND — We are now the final stretch.

The presidential debate in Cleveland is about to be in the books, and when it is, the coronavirus will have left its mark.

Because of the virus, there will be changes at this year’s debate.

The candidates will not be shaking hands with each other or the moderator at the Samson Pavilion.

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The Washington Post is reporting the crowd will consist of just 80-90 people.

All of them, including media, will have taken a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the debate.

There will also be no opening statements, with the first question of the 90-minute debate going to President Trump.

On Monday, workers put the finishing touches on the stage where President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will go head-to-head.

FOLLOW: Live updates: Presidential debate brings battle to Cleveland

Peter Eyre, senior advisor for the Commission on Debates, said everything is on track.

“The production team is working on testing all of our systems, both primary and backup, working rehearsals and working with all of the different participants to make sure that the event is ready to go,” he said.

Both candidates arrive in Cleveland on Tuesday.

The last time the city hosted a presidential debate was in 1980, between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.