Joe Biden said that he was not surprised by the news that President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19, telling NBC News’ Lester Holt that “anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter, are responsible for what happens to them.”
Appearing at NBC News’ outdoor town hall in Miami, Biden did say that he was glad that the president “seems to be coming along pretty well.”
But alluding to the president’s return to the White House earlier on Monday evening, in which he took off his mask and entered the building, Biden said, “I hope no one walks away with the message it’s not a problem. It’s a serious problem.”
Biden’s campaign pulled its negative advertising when Trump disclosed his coronavirus diagnosis, while Biden sent a message to the president and First Lady Melania Trump wishing them well in their recovery.
Asked whether he called Trump, Biden said, “I inquired whether I should do that and the decision was that would be intrusive.”
Biden said that he was not concerned that he had been exposed to the virus at last week’s presidential debate, as he was spaced apart from Trump. But he was surprised when he saw the Trump family and friends take their seats in the audience without masks.
“It was a little disconcerting that his whole section, no one had masks on,” Biden said.
The town hall was Biden’s second of the fall campaign. He participated in a CNN town hall last month, which was a “drive in” event in which participants socially distanced in their cars. At the NBC News town hall, the 60 person audience was spread seven to 11 feet apart, and every attendee had to wear a face mask. They also had to answer a symptoms questionaire and take temperature checks. Holt was seated at least 15 feet away.