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How will President Trump's COVID diagnosis impact the Belmont Presidential Debate?

Posted at 12:02 PM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 21:37:06-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — With changes in President Trump's schedule now being announced because of his positive COVID-19 test, it begs the question of whether the remaining presidential debates will go on as scheduled, including the third scheduled presidential debate set to be held at Belmont University on October 22.

NewsChannel 5 has reached out to both Belmont University and the Commission on Presidential Debates, but neither have immediately responded with any comment.

NewsChannel 5 political analyst Pat Nolan puts it bluntly:

"As we always seem to be in 2020, we are in uncharted waters uncharted territory," Nolan said. "We’ve never seen this before."

According to CDC guidelines, people who test positive for COVID-19 should stay in isolation for at least 10 days after symptoms first appear and after they have been without a fever for at least 24 hours.

From what we know now, the scheduled third presidential debate does fall outside of the CDC isolation window, but the White House said Friday that President Trump is showing "mild symptoms." The White House did not specify what those symptoms are, including whether the President has a fever.

"I would guess, knowing what we know at this point, which of course could change as soon as these words get out of my mouth, that [the Belmont debate] will go on as scheduled," Nolan said. "Now, there may be rules changes, we don’t know exactly what the commission will do or say."

Nolan says even if the third presidential debate at Belmont does go on as scheduled, it may not have as big an impact as in previous years. He says this year, due to COVID-19, more people will have already voted early or by mail by the time the debate is scheduled to take place in about three weeks.

"There may not be as many people who say, ‘I have to watch it because I have to make up my mind.’ They may say I’ve already heard that, I don’t want to hear it again, and I don’t want to get into it."