Published: 2020-10-05 08:46 pm
Trump releases campaign-style video shortly after arriving back at White House
President Trump speaks during the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, September 29. Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg/Getty Images

President Trump’s name was on a list of names of people who had tested negative for the coronavirus before last Tuesday’s presidential debate, the Cleveland Clinic said Monday – and indicated that he would have had to have tested positive within 72 hours of the debate.

But the clinic, which acted as health security adviser to the Commission on Presidential Debates, did not review the test results, clinic spokesperson Angie Kiska told CNN.

Kiska told CNN that the Clinic suggested the campaigns begin testing on Sept. 27 because that “covered into the night of the debate.” Once a person had submitted a confirmed negative test result, they did not have to submit any further testing. 

“The Cleveland Clinic required everyone entering the debate hall to have a negative COVID-19 test. This was also required by the White House medical team,” the Cleveland Clinic said in a separate statement sent to CNN.

“The campaigns had existing testing protocols, which were reviewed as part of the planning process in which the Cleveland Clinic, the Commission on Presidential Debates and the campaigns participated. After that review, it was agreed that the campaigns’ respective medical teams would be (1) responsible for testing their respective candidates and entourages, and (2) required to certify to the Clinic on the day of the debate that all of those individuals had been tested by their medical teams with a negative test result within the approved time period before the debate. Each campaign complied with this requirement.” 

Both campaigns had to submit the names of those who tested negative within the 72 hours prior to the end of the debate, Kiska said. 

The submitted names, including that of the President and former Vice President Joe Biden, were reviewed by the Cleveland Clinic. However, the Clinic did not have to review actual test findings or see proof of negative results, said Kiska. She also said the date of the test was not required.

Under the agreed protocols, the campaigns were allowed to use any diagnostic test that had been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. That would include both rapid antigen tests and the gold-standard PCR diagnostic test. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rapid antigen tests are generally less sensitive – less accurate at generating true positive readings — than PCR tests.

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