US Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger, California Senator Kamala Harris, are poised to meet later on Wednesday for a debate that will offer different visions for a country confronting escalating crises.
The faceoff in Salt Lake City is the most highly anticipated vice presidential debate in recent memory.
At the University of Utah, where the vice presidential debate will take place, production crew on Tuesday installed panels on stage, which will serve as a barrier to protect the candidates and the moderator.
Pence and Harris will appear on stage exactly 12.25 feet apart, separated by the plexiglass barriers. Anyone in the small audience who refuses to wear a mask will be asked to leave.
Pence’s team made clear throughout the week that they thought putting any plexiglass barriers near the vice president was unnecessary and that they opposed such a move.
Sen. Kamala Harris’ team, however, wanted the barriers, in part, because of the ongoing spread of coronavirus inside the White House.
The debate unfolds while President Donald Trump recovers after testing positive last week for the coronavirus and spending several days in the hospital, a serious setback for his campaign.
Pence, who was with Trump and others last week who have since tested positive, has faced questions about whether he should be at the debate at all.
The vice president has repeatedly tested negative for the virus, and his staff and doctors insist he does not need to quarantine under Centres for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.