11 COVID-19 cases linked to presidential debate at Cleveland Clinic

The city of Cleveland released a statement Friday that 11 cases of COVID-19 are linked to planning and set-up for the Sept. 29 presidential debate. The Cleveland Clinic, which hosted the event, specified that the 11 people never accessed the debate hall.

"It's important to clarify the 11 people who tested positive never accessed the debate hall," Cleveland Clinic said in a statement. "These individuals were either members of the media or were scheduled to work logistics/set-up in 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."

The Cleveland Department of Public Health is engaged in the contract tracing process. It notes that the majority of cases are out-of-state residents. 

Neither the city nor Cleveland Clinic specified who is among the 11 people linked to the debate who have tested positive. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and presidential adviser Hope Hicks — each of whom has tested positive for COVID-19 — traveled to Cleveland for the debate. 

In addition to hosting the debate, Cleveland Clinic advised the Commission on Presidential Debates on requirements to maintain a safe environment that aligned with CDC guidelines, — including social distancing, hand sanitizing, temperature checks and masking. 

"Individuals traveling with both candidates, including the candidates themselves, had been tested and tested negative by their respective campaigns," according to the health system’s statement. "Based on what we know about the virus and the safety measures we had in place, we believe there is low risk of exposure to our guests. Out of an abundance of caution, we are reaching out to our guests to address any questions and concerns."

Cleveland Clinic hosted the candidates at its Health Education Campus, which is a joint project between the clinic and Case Western Reserve University that opened in 2019 and includes a 477,000-square-foot pavilion. The space housed rows of socially distanced chairs that seated a few dozen people, including the candidates’ wives, members of the campaigns, hosts, health and security officials and journalists, according to Politico


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