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Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate looked a little bit different to what viewers are typically used to seeing from such an event.
In accordance with heightened safety measures amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, Sen. Kamala Harris and vice president Mike Pence were separated by a see-through plexiglass barrier and seated 12 feet away from one another on stage at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
According to The Associated Press, Harris’s team requested that plexiglass be used after President Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Oct. 1, just days after his presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Pence’s team, meanwhile, insisted they were not medically necessary.
Approximately 20 seats, positioned 6 feet away from each other, were set up in front of the stage for viewers. On the empty rows of seats, a sign read: “Thank you for not sitting here in observance of social distancing.”
Audience members were required to wear masks and were partly comprised of University of Utah students who won seats through a lottery. Tickets came with an instruction that advised, “In order not to detract from the live televised event for the many millions of people watching the broadcast, live audience members shall refrain from expressing approval or disapproval of events on stage as the debate unfolds.”
All media personnel had to undergo COVID-19 tests before being granted wristbands to enter the debate perimeter.
The debate was moderated by USA Today’s Washington bureau chief, Susan Page. Near the top of the proceeding, she emphasized that each two minute response was to be “without interruption.” She further said, “Americans also deserve a discussion that is civil.”
This debate took place less than a week after Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19, along with other members of the White House including Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien and his speechwriter Stephen Miller.
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