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175 doctors tell commission Biden-Trump debate in Miami can be held safely

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Hundreds of physicians have written to the Commission on Presidential Debates saying they believe it’s safe for President Trump to participate in Thursday’s debate with Joe Biden in Miami, The Post has learned.

The debate’s organizing body on Thursday announced the show-down would be made virtual for safety reasons after the president contracted COVID-19 — a move that angered the commander in chief who in turn announced he would boycott the event.

Now, as many as 175 medical doctors from across the nation have written to the commission saying an in-person debate would be safe as long as social distancing guidelines were followed by both Trump and Biden.

“I am a family medicine physician who has treated many COVID patients, both in hospital and in the outpatient setting. I am requesting that the Commission reverse its decision and hold an in-person debate,” wrote Dr. Joseph T. Dougherty, of Pittsburgh, in one letter obtained by The Post.

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“Based on science, data, and epidemiology, the debate can, and should, be held safely in person and it is essential to do so,” he added.

Many of the doctors cited guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that a person infected with COVID-19 can safely be around other people 10 days after their symptoms first appeared.

The debate, slated for Oct. 15, would take place 13 days after the president announced he and the first lady had tested positive for the virus.

However, it’s unclear when the commander in chief last tested negative for the respiratory bug which has so far killed 210,000 Americans, a detail the White House has refused to reveal.

President Trump's physician Dr. Sean Conley
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President Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean ConleyPOOL/CNP/startraksph­oto.com

Dr. Sean Conley, the physician to the president, cleared Trump to return to public engagements on Saturday after completing treatment for COVID-19 and Trump has already scheduled a White House event on Saturday and a Florida rally on Monday.



“I am a board certified family medicine physician and additionally hold a Masters in Public Health,” Dr. Jacqueline Koski wrote in another letter.

“Regarding the upcoming presidential debate, according to the current scientific knowledge regarding Covid transmission, there should be no concern whatsoever about holding a debate with proper precautions in place,” she wrote.

The debate commission and Biden campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letters Friday.

Trump’s re-election campaign said they would participate in the Miami debate, the second contest between the pair, if the committee agreed to hold it in person after Trump called a virtual event “a waste of my time.”

Biden has since agreed to take part in a solo ABC town hall with voters in Philadelphia that night but said he would show up for a debate

under the commission rules if Trump does.

“There is no medical reason for either Joe Biden or the commission to alter, postpone, or cancel the in-person Miami debate. The President will be healthy and ready to participate,” Tim Murtaugh, Trump 2020 director of communications, said Friday.

Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic opponent Kamala Harris had their lone debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night, where they were separated by two plexiglass barriers and 12 feet of distance.

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