Jen O’Malley Dillon, campaign manager for Mr Biden, said Thursday the campaign learned on Wednesday evening that Ms Harris’ communications director, Liz Allen, and an unidentified flight crew member had been tested positive for the virus.
Later Thursday, Ms O’Malley Dillon said that a third person affiliated with the campaign, who worked for the airline that charters Mr Biden’s plane, also tested positive for Covid-19.
The anonymous individual was on the same plane as the former vice president on Monday and Tuesday. Ms. O’Malley Dillon said the person was in the back row of the plane, more than 15 meters from Mr. Biden, and both were wearing masks throughout the flights.
Ms Harris and Mr Biden both tested negative for the virus on Wednesday evening, according to the campaign. A campaign staffer later confirmed that Ms Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, were tested again for Covid-19 on Thursday and the virus had not been detected.
The revelation adds further uncertainty to a presidential campaign season that has been rocked by the pandemic and comes less than two weeks after President Donald Trump and some of his closest advisers and family members tested positive for the coronavirus.
In a lengthy statement, Ms O’Malley Dillon said Ms Harris, a US senator from California, was “not in close contact” with either person in the two days before their positive tests. But she said Biden’s team had grounded Ms Harris throughout the weekend, “out of caution and in accordance with our campaign’s commitment to the highest levels of precaution.”
The campaign manager said Ms Allen and the flight crew member were last on a flight with Ms Harris a week earlier on October 8. Ms O’Malley Dillon said the running mate and staff all wore N95 masks throughout the flight, were not “within six feet for more than 15 minutes” and were tested negative for Covid-19 before and after the trip.
Ms O’Malley Dillon said the people had since attended “personal, off-campaign events” and therefore had been tested before returning to work, under rules set by the Biden team.
“These protocols help protect the campaign, the staff and anyone with whom they may come into contact,” she said.
“I will be transparent with you about any test results I receive,” tweeted Ms Harris, who made virtual appearances this week at Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Supreme Court candidate Amy Coney Barrett.
“In the meantime, remember: wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands regularly. It is possible to stop the spread. ”
The announcement comes less than three weeks before election day, as the presidential campaign has been keen to hold a referendum on Mr. Trump’s presidency and his handling of the pandemic in particular.
Mr Biden and his allies were quick to criticize Mr Trump and his campaign for failing to follow health guidelines to protect himself and the public from Covid-19 after the president and members of his inner circle have tested positive for the virus.
At a campaign rally in North Carolina on Thursday, Mr. Trump said of the cases: “We send our best wishes, which is more than they did to me, but that’s okay.
Mr Biden currently leads Mr Trump in national opinion polls by a 9.5-point margin, according to a Financial Times analysis of data from RealClearPolitics. He is also ahead in several key states, after his lead widened slightly following the first presidential debate and Mr Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis.
Latest news on coronaviruses
Follow FT’s live coverage and analysis of the global pandemic and rapidly evolving economic crisis here.
Most opinion polls show the majority of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of his own disease and the broader pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States.
Both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump are scheduled to take place in dueling town hall-style shows, where voters will ask questions, on rival television networks Thursday night.
The second presidential debate was originally set for Thursday but was dropped after Mr. Trump refused to participate in a “virtual” format. Mr. Biden signed on last week for an ABC show.
Rival network NBC said on Wednesday it would broadcast a town hall with Mr Trump at the same time, sparking outrage from critics who pointed out that the president has long held a lucrative contract with the network for his reality show. . The apprentice.