US Democrat Joe Biden said Tuesday that he would not be holding rallies for presidential campaigns during the coronavirus pandemic, an exceptional statement that stands in stark contrast to Donald Trump, who has already held major campaign rallies.
"This is the most unusual campaign I think in modern history," the former vice president said during a question and answer session with reporters in Delaware to discuss the pandemic and ways to curb its spread.
"I will follow the doctor's instructions – not just for myself but for the country as well – and that means I won't be holding any rallies," said Biden, adding that he has not yet been tested on COVID-19.
It was not clear whether the 77-year-old Biden was referring to a personal doctor who recommended staying away from him and the participants for health reasons, or to the US government guidelines that the Americans are calling for at events to participate in which large crowds gather.
And he didn't say if his decision could change until mitigation efforts improve in the coming months.
Biden's announcement comes amid growing concerns about America's failure to contain a crisis that has killed more than 126,000 people nationwide. Leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warned Congress that daily infections could more than double without a sufficiently robust response to 100,000.
Biden said he would miss the personal connections he sees on the trail – something the veteran democrat is known for.
In the few trips he made, for example to Texas or Pennsylvania, the events were minor and the participants were masked and followed recommendations for social distancing.
During such trips, "I get in, do my case, ask questions, and leave," said Biden. "But you know me: I would much rather be with people out there because I get the best feeling there."
Instead, the vast majority of Biden's campaign has been virtual since March as it takes on the challenging task of projecting engagement through remote interviews, online meetings, fundraisers, and television appearances from a studio in its Delaware home.
But he suggested that such a process, as unconventional as it was, helped him to get in touch with voters in an unprecedented way.
"They tell me that 200 million people have watched what I did from home and what we did half a dozen things," said Biden.
"And so the irony is that we are likely to communicate directly and in detail with more people than we would otherwise. But I would much rather do it personally."
Biden is currently a leader in national surveys, as well as surveys conducted in several swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, battlegrounds that were critical to Trump's victory in 2016.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)