- US President Donald Trump says he does not believe he is contagious and is feeling good enough to resume campaign rallies. Joe Biden and his running mate are campaigning in Arizona on Thursday now a key battleground state. Trump says he will not participate in next week’s debate with Democratic nominee Biden after organisers announced it will take place virtually. Mike Pence and Kamala Harris faced off on Wednesday in a civil debate focused on the pandemic.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the United States elections. This is Jihan Abdalla.
Thursday, October 8: 10:30 ET – Doctors and nurses battle virus skeptics
Doctors and nurses treating those sick and dying from the coronavirus say the politics of the crisis are complicating treatment efforts.
The families of some of those hospitalised with the virus do not believe it is real and it is unclear how Trump’s bout with the virus will affect the situation. Some doctors are not optimistic.
“Just imagine that while you are caring for your own staff that are dying from this disease, and while you are trying to keep yourself safe, and you are trying to keep your family safe, and you are trying to deal with a disease that such little is known about, and then to have somebody tell you that it is all a hoax after you have been dealing with that all day,” said Dr. Phillip Coule, the health system’s chief medical officer at Augusta University Medical Center in Georgia.
“Imagine the emotional distress that that causes.”
09:50 ET – Trump says COVID-19 aid talks have restarted, good chance for deal
Trump said talks with Congress have restarted over further COVID-19 relief and that there was a good chance a deal could be reached, but gave no other details about a possible agreement.
“Now they are starting to work out,” he told Fox Business Network in a telephone interview about talks after he cut off negotiations via a post on Twitter earlier this week.
09:45 ET – US weekly jobless claims inch lower, but remain high
The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits drifted lower last week.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totalled a seasonally adjusted 840,000 for the week ended October 3, compared with an upwardly revised 849,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said.
Claims have stalled at historically high levels after dropping below one million in August as the government changed the way it strips seasonal fluctuations from the data. They are above their peak of 665,000 during the 2007-09 Great Recession, though filings have dropped from a record 6.867 million at the end of March.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, is on the campaign trail in Arizona on Thursday [Andrew Harnik/AP Photo] 09:40 ET – ‘Perfect physical specimen’
Trump, confined to the White House, said he does not believe he is contagious and is feeling good enough to resume campaign rallies as he tries to boost his flagging re-election bid.
“I’m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen,” Trump told Fox Business.
Trump’s contention he was no longer contagious was not yet backed up by solid evidence from his doctors. The White House has refused to say when his last negative test for the virus was and, as a result, it is unclear how long he has been positive.
Donald Trump said he is ‘feeling good, really good’ in his first interview, conducted over the telephone, since he returned from the hospital on Monday [Erin Scott/Reuters] 09:35 ET – Trump not to participate in virtual debate with Biden
Trump said he will not participate in next week’s debate with Biden after organisers announced it will take place virtually because of the president’s diagnosis of COVID-19.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump told Fox Business News, moments after the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced the changes.
The Commission on Presidential Debates made the decision unilaterally, citing the need “to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate”.
Pence, Harris debate [AP] 09:30 ET – Wednesday night’s debate
Wednesday’s vice-presidential debate had sharp moments, some modest interruptions and violations of the debate clock. But the dynamics between Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris represented a rare 2020 return to some semblance of normal presidential politics.
The candidates were separated by plexiglass out of concern for the spread of the coronavirus from cases emanating from the White House.
Harris put Pence on the defensive, calling Trump’s pandemic response “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country”.
Pence expressed sympathy for all those affected by the pandemic, and he accused Harris of “playing politics with people’s lives”.
Read the US election news from Wednesday, October 7, here.