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Biden, Harris to get routine virus testing, a notable change

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden raises his arm with his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. Jill Biden is at left. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden raises his arm with his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. Jill Biden is at left. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – In a notable change, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, will now be regularly tested for the coronavirus as the race heats up, a campaign aide confirmed Monday.

“This announcement is another step demonstrating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ commitment to turn the page on Trump’s catastrophic mismanagement during the worst public health crisis in 100 years,” said Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates.

Bates declined to comment Monday when asked if Biden had been tested yet, though deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said Sunday that he hadn't been.

A campaign aide said the decision to move forward with regular testing was based on the recommendations of the campaign’s medical advisers. It comes as the candidate and his running mate are expected to ramp up in-person campaigning in the final 10 weeks of the election. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

Staffers who interact with the candidates will also be tested regularly. And the campaign has pledged to make public if either Biden or Harris tests positive for the virus.

Biden had said multiple times over the past few months that he hasn’t been tested for the virus, noting he’s experienced no symptoms. Still, the former vice president is 77 and remains at higher risk for severe illness if infected than the greater population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Democratic presidential nominee has avoided large public campaign events in favor of virtual campaigning from his Wilmington, Delaware home, and when he does hold in-person events, they are small, socially distanced gatherings where Biden and all attendees are required to wear a mask.

But the lack of testing last week came as Biden delivered remarks for the Democratic National Convention in front of a small pool of reporters, all of whom were tested daily for the coronavirus and were required to have a negative result to attend the remarks.

The Biden campaign has pummeled President Donald Trump on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“For the entirety of this outbreak, Joe Biden has lived his values, modelling and strongly encouraging responsible behavior to keep Americans safe while proposing the kind of desperately-needed national strategy for defeating this pandemic that Donald Trump still has not provided,” Bates said. “Donald Trump has been the opposite.”

In the early weeks of the pandemic, Trump also went without a coronavirus test, first taking one in March. But he shifted to daily tests in May, after one of his personal aides tested positive for the virus.