Commission on Presidential Debates expected to review mask requirement enforcement for future debates

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — Concerned over the resistance of the first family to follow a requirement that everyone attending last Tuesday’s presidential debate was to wear a mask during the debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates is expected to review its enforcement of that requirement for future debates.

The Cleveland Clinic on Monday told FOX 8 News that the requirement was one that both campaigns had agreed to follow in advance of the debate.

Speaking with FOX 8 by phone, Clinic spokesperson Angela Kiska said they could not have predicted what happened on Tuesday. “Both campaigns signed off on the requirements and we expected everyone to comply.”

Asked if the clinic worries that the non-compliance could send a message to others attending future debates that the requirements established by the Clinic, as health and safety advisor for the debate commission, do not have to be followed by those who wish to ignore them, Kiska said there are discussions to hold a safe and healthy environment for those attending future debates.

On the record she did not provide details about those discussions.

Late Sunday, the Cleveland Clinic released a new statement that said the testing of those who were there with the two candidates was conducted by their campaigns. “Both campaigns have their own medical physicians and health advisors.  We reviewed their protocols and approved their methodology,” said Kiska.

When asked if the Cleveland Clinic relied on the “honor system” related to the test results or if they were provided actual documentation, Kiska said both campaigns provided a list of those who were there as a part of their entourage and an accounting of their test results. “We cannot share that because of HIPAA.” Kiska said we would have to reach out to the campaigns for more on that. “The campaigns arrived with the results, certification that each of the individuals traveling with the campaigns were entering with a negative test result,” she added.

On FOX News Sunday Morning, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told debate moderator Chris Wallace that the campaign “believes in masks. We also believe in some element of individual choice; people were distanced and they had been tested,” said Meadows.

Others entering the hall or within the debate site on the Cleveland Clinic campus were required to go to Walker Hall to have a COVID-19 test including credentialed media and contractors involved in pre-debate setup.

Kiska said anyone who tested positive was not allowed on campus, so the clinic did not do any contact tracing of those who did.

The Cleveland Clinic on Friday, and again on Monday, would not provide a representative for an on-camera or recorded interview but were openly willing to answer FOX 8 questions by phone.

Health experts have asserted that COVID-19 has an incubation period of as much as 14 days, during which time an individual who has been exposed to someone who has the virus might not test positive.

But the clinic also cites CDC and other wisdom that suggests individuals are not contagious until they become symptomatic and no one permitted in the debate hall tested tested positive.

“We know masks work.  We have been operating a hospital (during this pandemic) by implementing these measures.  We know they work.  The requirements (for the debates) are the same. There are masking requirements in place. I’m sure there will be more coming out about upcoming debates,” said Kiska.

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