Biden has not been tested for COVID-19, but 'incredibly strict protocols' in place: Biden communications director

Bedingfield also signaled Biden's support for a 'skinny' coronavirus relief bill

August 23, 2020, 1:06 PM

Kate Bedingfield, former Vice President Joe Biden's deputy campaign manager and communications director, said Sunday that the Democratic presidential nominee has not been tested for COVID-19, but that "incredibly strict protocols," have been put in place to ensure that he does not contract it.

"He has not had the virus. We have put in place really strict protocols, as I think all of your journalists who attended our convention in Delaware this week say," Bedingfield told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," just days after Biden officially accepted the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

"Has he been tested?" Stephanopoulos pressed.

"He has not been tested. However, we have put the strictest protocols in place and ... moving forward, should he need to be tested, he certainly would be. But he has not been tested yet," Bedingfield responded.

Stephanopoulos also asked about President Donald Trump's tweet on Friday, where he said that there is a "deep state" at the Food and Drug Administration that is slowing down the development of a vaccine and therapeutics to treat COVID-19. Bedingfield said the injection of politics into the process is unhelpful.

"The American people need to be confident that the process of getting to a vaccine is not being politically manipulated. And right now we're not getting a whole lot of reason to believe that. Unfortunately this is consistent with the way the president has approached this crisis from the beginning," Bedingfield said.

In an earlier interview on "This Week" Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was challenged on Trump's tweet as well. He asserted that there are a number of people at the FDA who do not share the president's urgency on finding a vaccine for COVID-19.

"He had to make sure that they felt the heat. If they don't see the light, they need to feel the heat because the American people are suffering, this president knows it, and he's going to put it on wherever -- the FDA or NIH or anybody else to make sure that we deliver on behalf of the American people," Meadows said.

Bedingfield also added that there is "no evidence" that the Trump administration would be able to effectively and properly handle the process of distributing a COVID-19 vaccine equitably and quickly to the American people when one is developed.

"That is a massive logistical undertaking. It requires planning, it requires organization, it requires execution. And I don't think anybody has seen any evidence from this president, or this government, that they're going to be able to handle that kind of operation," she argued.

Following Meadows' signaling of support for a more targeted coronavirus relief bill that addresses some of the Democrats' concerns, including additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service, Bedingfield said that Biden would back that step, adding that he wants to get relief to American families suffering from the coronavirus crisis "immediately."

"He would. He believes that we need to get resources to the post office to insure that they can do their job," Bedingfield said. "He also believes that we need to get money to people who are hurting now."

She was also asked about comments made earlier this week by former Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., who is heading Biden's presidential transition team, about not foreseeing a major increase in federal spending if Biden is elected president, which drew backlash from progressive leaders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Bedingfield said the former vice president has no plans to scale back any of his proposals if he wins in November.

"He is not. If he is president he is going to work to bring along support to get those plans done and move our country forward because he believes that is the right way to build back better," Bedingfield said.

On Sunday, she also defended against criticism that Democrats' almost entirely virtual convention did not focus enough on the policy vision Biden is proposing, while at the same time getting in a dig at Republicans ahead of their convention, which is set to begin on Monday.

"I think you saw a real distinction between what you saw at our convention this past week and what I imagine you're going to see at the Republican convention next week. Especially given the fact that we now know that almost half the speakers who are speaking have the last name Trump. ... You saw real people talking about their experiences, talking about how Donald Trump's leadership has impacted their lives and why they believe that Joe Biden should be president," Bedingfield said.

The former vice president's campaign has not said whether or not there are plans for him to travel to any battleground states in the coming weeks, but the Democratic Party and Biden's team are planning counter-programming events on all four nights of the Republican National Convention, tapping top surrogates like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to participate.

Biden's campaign has not said whether or not he or his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, will be participating in the counter-programming of the RNC.

Watch "The Ticket: The First Interview," a special edition of "20/20," airing Sunday, Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, in which "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir and "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts conduct the first joint interviews with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris.

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