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NBC Says Trump Will Hold Town Hall Meeting Thursday, Competing Against Biden

President Trump may not be debating Joseph R. Biden Jr. on the same stage on Thursday night as originally planned. But the two candidates will still face off head-to-head.

NBC News confirmed on Wednesday that it would broadcast a prime-time town-hall-style event with Mr. Trump from Miami on Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern, with the president fielding questions from Florida voters.

The event will directly overlap with an already-scheduled ABC televised town-hall meeting with Mr. Biden in Philadelphia, which will begin at the same time.

Mr. Biden’s town hall has been on the books since last week, after Mr. Trump, who had recently contracted the coronavirus, rejected plans to convert the second formal presidential debate into a virtual matchup; the debate was eventually canceled.

The NBC event, to be moderated by the “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie, had been contingent on the Trump campaign providing independent proof that the president would not pose a safety risk to the other participants — including NBC crew members, voters and Ms. Guthrie herself.

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As late as Tuesday afternoon, NBC executives were waiting for that proof, but the network determined late Tuesday that it would be comfortable moving forward, according to two people familiar with the planning.

On Wednesday’s “Today” show, the NBC anchor Craig Melvin said the town hall would occur “in accordance with the guidelines set forth by health officials” and proffered a statement from Clifford Lane, a clinical director at the National Institutes of Health.

In the statement, Dr. Lane said he had reviewed medical data about Mr. Trump’s condition, including a so-called P.C.R. test — a widely used diagnostic test for the coronavirus that is considered more reliable than a rapid antigen test — that the N.I.H. “collected and analyzed” on Tuesday. Dr. Lane concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that the president is “not shedding infectious virus,” NBC said.

The network did not explicitly say that Mr. Trump had received a negative result from the P.C.R. test.

Mr. Trump and his aides have not shared extensive details about the president’s medical condition with the public, and over the past few days, NBC executives were no exception. Until late Tuesday, the network had been prepared to cancel the event if the president’s team did not present convincing evidence that Mr. Trump would not potentially infect those around him, one of the people said.

The town hall on Thursday will be held outdoors at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, and audience members will be required to wear face masks, the network said. Ms. Guthrie and Mr. Trump will be seated at least 12 feet apart.

NBC officials began discussing the possibility of a town hall with the Trump campaign last week, after Mr. Trump pulled out of the second planned presidential debate. The network made clear at the start that it needed outside proof of the president’s medical condition.

NBC officials did not say exactly what testing

Coronavirus Feels Doubly Dangerous In A Town Haunted By Asbestos : Shots

Frank Fahland, 61, is one of hundreds of Libby, Mont., residents who has an asbestos-related disease. That makes them potentially more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.

Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau


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Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau

Frank Fahland, 61, is one of hundreds of Libby, Mont., residents who has an asbestos-related disease. That makes them potentially more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.

Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau

LIBBY, Mont. — Frank Fahland has spent most days since the pandemic began at the site of his dream house, working to finish a 15-year labor of love while keeping away from town and the people closest to him.

Like thousands of people from Libby and Lincoln County, in the far northwestern corner of Montana, the 61-year-old Fahland has lungs already scarred by years of breathing in the asbestos fibers that have contaminated the area’s dust and soil. The asbestos is a legacy of a now-defunct plant in the area that made vermiculite, a mineral used in insulation and gardening.

Fahland recently gave a visitor a tour of his partially finished log home, overlooking a meadow that stretches to the foothills of the Cabinet Mountains. He struggled to climb a small hill and stopped to reach for his inhaler.

“It feels like someone is standing on your chest,he explains, “or almost like someone stuffed a pillow down there in your lung.”

Fahland’s condition makes him more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19, so he’s keeping his distance from people, in hopes of avoiding infection. He has kept his distance from his son and granddaughter for months and he recently wrote his will.

“If it hadn’t been for COVID my will would not be written. But it is now,” Fahland says. “It’s filed in the courthouse and the whole goddamn thing is done. That gives you some idea of how seriously I take this.”

He’s not alone in taking such precautions against the virus. Lincoln County has one of the nation’s highest asbestos mortality rates. At least 400 people have died from asbestos-related diseases, which can include asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. At least 1 in 10 people in Libby have an asbestos-related illness, according to Miles Miller, a physician assistant at the Center for Asbestos Related Disease.

“Our patients having an underlying lung disease would make recovery from COVID-19 more difficult,” Miller says.

Lincoln County, population 20,000, largely was spared from outbreaks of the novel coronavirus at the beginning, which Miller chalked up to the community’s vigilance in testing, tracking and prevention efforts.

But by the fall, cases began to climb in the county along with the rest of Montana. By early October, the number of confirmed cases in Lincoln County was 170, nearly double the count at the end of August. County health officials said in a Facebook post that cases were all over the county and “it would be irresponsible to classify any towns as safe.”

The town of

Wilmington Coronavirus Rates Rise, Town Upgraded To Yellow

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington was newly designated a moderate risk, yellow, community in the state’s latest town-by-town coronavirus update, Wednesday. The town has 20 active positives, the Board of Health said Wednesday.

Towns were labeled yellow if they reported more than four confirmed cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks. Wilmington reported 14 new cases, bringing it to 4.1 per 100,000.

According to data released by the Board of Health, 13 of the town’s 20 current coronavirus patients are 30 or under and none are over 60. But the Boarded reported 11 cases at the Care One nursing home, Tuesday, separate from the community count.

Forty communities were labeled high-risk, Wednesday. State rules mean that high-risk communities, plus others that were high-risk in the last two updates, cannot move on to the next phase of reopening. Towns were marked high-risk, or red, if they reported more than eight confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks.

>>MA Town-By-Town Coronavirus Stats: 40 High-Risk Communities

The latest data showed the positive test rate over the last two weeks increased in 176 of the 351 communities in the state. The rate fell in 68 communities and held steady in the remaining 148.

The town’s percent positive rate over the last two weeks rose to 2.03 percent. Health officials say positive test results need to stay below 5 percent for two weeks or longer and, preferably, be closer to 2 percent, for states to safely ease restrictions.

View the state’s interactive COVID-19 map.

Christopher Huffaker can be reached at 412-265-8353 or [email protected]

This article originally appeared on the Wilmington Patch

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