Andrew Yang muddies mayoral debate answer by saying mentally ill homeless people have rights, ‘but you know who else have rights? We do’

Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang stands at a campaign rally surrounded by supporters waving signs.
Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang.

  • An offhand remark from Andrew Yang at Wednesday night’s NYC mayoral debate drew swift backlash.
  • Yang was talking about homelessness and mental illness.
  • “Yes, mentally ill people have rights, but you know who else have rights? We do.”
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Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang drew swift condemnation from critics over what they described as an insensitive remark at Wednesday night’s final televised debate.

Yang, who has slipped from the frontrunner status he enjoyed for months to a more fluid spot within the primary campaign’s top four, was addressing mental illness and homelessness.

“Yes, mentally ill people have rights, but you know who else have rights? We do: the people and families of the city,” Yang said. “We have the right to walk the street and not fear for our safety because a mentally ill person is going to lash out at us.”

Rival campaigns quickly pounced on the comment, but backlash grew more broadly on social media once video of the remark began to circulate.

Earlier in his answer, Yang said the city needs to take a different approach given the spike in violent crime and several seemingly random attacks on the subways.

“I’m so glad we’re talking about this. Half of the attacks on Asian New Yorkers have been by the mentally ill. They’re walking around, they’re mentally ill, they see someone who’s different, and then they lash out. So this is such a crucial issue to return a sense of safety to our city,” he said.

Yang said the city needs to offer “more psych beds” and find a way to involuntarily commit those who are acting violently or are unresponsive, a practice that has been rolled back in the decades since major psychiatric institutions began to close across the country.

Other candidates in the race have a similar position to Yang’s and have called for more police in the subway.

Fellow candidate Scott Stringer replied to Yang’s comments by saying, “You can’t say, ‘Psych beds for all’ … That is the greatest non-answer I’ve ever heard in all of our debates.”

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Andrew Yang blasts ‘racist’ New York Daily News cartoon of him in Times Square, warning campaign rivals over anti-Asian sentiment

andrew evelyn yang together anti asian hate
Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang and his wife, Evelyn.

  • NYC mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang held a press conference dedicated to anti-Asian hate on Tuesday.
  • Yang responded to a New York Daily News cartoon of him in Times Square and a recent subway attack.
  • He also warned campaign rivals over taking advantage of an “anti-Asian sentiment” in the city.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In response to another recent subway attack and a widely-condemned New York Daily News cartoon depicting him as an Asian tourist, Democratic New York City mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang called out a rise in “anti-Asian sentiment” and hate crimes at a press conference Tuesday at the 21st Street-Queensbridge F train stop.

He was joined by his wife, Evelyn, a Queens native, who described the cartoon as a “racist disfiguration” of her husband’s face.

Yang also warned his campaign rivals not to take advantage of any anti-Asian sentiment in the city, saying he normally wants to give people “the benefit of the doubt,” but that in light of recent events, continued broadsides against him as a neophyte and fake New Yorker have made a connection “impossible to ignore.”

“I’m talking about statements that are over the course of a campaign that has been going on for months,” Yang said of rival campaigns either explicitly or implicitly saying that he is not a true New Yorker.

Yang specifically referenced a spokesman for City Comptroller Scott Stringer saying “We welcome Andrew Yang to the mayor’s race – and to New York City” back in January, but otherwise refrained from calling out any competitors directly.

Evelyn, who became visibly emotional when she spoke at the news conference, decried a “toxic narrative” of her husband being “not a real New Yorker … somehow more foreign, less of this place.”

Yang was joined by several prominent city and state lawmakers of Asian descent, several of whom spoke about their experiences with racism while out in public.

Through most of the crowded primary campaign, Yang has held off from attacking competitors, even heaping praise on some, such as former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, whom he said would be an ideal deputy mayor given her experience in city government.

However, Yang began a recent event about lowering the city voting age to 16 by criticizing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams over alleged campaign finance violations in the Big Apple’s public funds matching system, which were unearthed in a New York Times investigation.

Adams, who has traded places with Yang for first and second in the limited public polling so far, has been more assertive in his attacks against Yang in recent weeks.

“Choose your side. The good side or the ⁦Yang side,” Adams told reporters the same day Yang went after him over the matching donations from developers who lobbied him over zoning changes.

The borough president’s campaign also released a statement earlier in the race, saying, “Eric doesn’t need a tour of Brownsville. He was born there.”

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Andrew Yang ridiculed after he said Times Square is his favorite NYC subway station

andrew yang subway
New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang collects signatures to be on the Democratic primary ballot as he campaigns for mayor on the D subway train in Manhattan, New York City.

  • Andrew Yang faced a wave of ridicule after he called Times Square his favorite NYC subway station.
  • His answer prompted jokes from critics who said no “real New Yorker” likes Times Square.
  • Yang – who is a serious contender for NYC mayor – also struggled to name his favorite Jay-Z song.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang was mocked by New Yorkers after he said Times Square was his “favorite” subway station.

In a question-and-answer style interview with Showtime host and comedian Ziwe Fumudoh, Yang named the station his favorite among New York City’s 472 subway stops.

When Fumudoh reacted to Yang’s answer with incredulity, he tried to defend his choice, saying: “It’s my stop, so Times Square. It’s big, it’s cavernous, there are entertainers there. Sure, what’s not to like?”

According to the New York Times, Yang lives in Hell’s Kitchen – making Times Square one of the stops he could feasibly use somewhat near his home.

His response prompted ridicule from many of the city’s residents, who implied that a real New Yorker would not have given such a response.

“One thousand percent Not a New Yorker,” read one tweet, which was liked over 19,000 times.

“Saying Times Square is your favorite subway station should be disqualifying,” tweeted NYU law professor Rachel Barkow.

Other creative responses to Yang’s gaffe included snaps of Michael Scott from The Office picking up a “New York slice” from chain restaurant Sbarro.

In the same interview, Yang also struggled to answer Fumudoh’s question on what his favorite Jay-Z track was – despite claiming to be a long-time Jay-Z fan. Instead of naming widely-acclaimed solo songs, Yang named a 2004 Linkin Park collaboration,”Numb/Encore,” and Kanye West duet “N—-s In Paris” his top songs from the singer.

The former entrepreneur threw his hat into the ring to run for mayor after an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2020 and is now leading the pack.

The New York Daily News reported on May 12 that Yang is currently a frontrunner for the mayoral seat. He was ranked as voters’ first choice for mayor, with 21% support from the 1,003 people polled by Schoen Cooperman Research.

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Andrew Yang said he’d create homeless shelters in NYC dedicated to domestic violence victims. They already exist.

andrew yang nyc mayor
New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Andrew Yang.

  • New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Andrew Yang stumbled in a Q&A on Thursday.
  • Yang pitched a homeless shelter program for domestic violence survivors that already exists.
  • He also blanked on a key provision that keeps NYPD disciplinary records secret.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

At a Prospect Lefferts Gardens event on Thursday, New York City mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang raised eyebrows from the Gotham press corps when he made a pair of blunders.

Yang was making an announcement about diversifying the NYPD and using data more effectively within the department.

During a media availability in front of a subway station near Prospect Park, Yang said he would like to implement a shelter program for those fleeing domestic violence.

Reporters were quick to point out that such a program already exists under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.

Yang has made a few similar blunders before in the campaign, specifically in policy proposals that are already in place in some form.

He was also asked about Section 50-A of the New York Civil Rights Law by Julia Marsh of the New York Post. The 1976 carve-out keeps disciplinary records for city police officers confidential, as well as those for firefighters and corrections officers.

Yang appeared unfamiliar with the provision in his answer.

Scott Stringer, the city comptroller and one of Yang’s opponents from the left flank in the primary, issued a statement calling the blunders “dangerous.”

Chris Coffey, Yang’s co-campaign manager, responded to Stringer by implying he’s out of touch with New Yorkers because of his taxpayer-funded chauffeur service.

Earlier this week, Yang proposed lowering the voting age to 16 and allowing green card holders to vote in local elections.

As the number of undecided voters has ticked down in the limited public polling on the race, Yang has finished in either first or second place in the latest surveys along with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rips Andrew Yang for his ‘chest-thumping’ Israel statement and mocks his rejection from a Ramadan event

Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Capitol Hill April 2021
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Capitol Hill.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized Andrew Yang for his pro-Israel statement amid the deadly Israel-Palestine conflict.
  • Ocasio-Cortez stood with Queens organizers who disinvited Yang from a Ramadan-related event Tuesday.
  • The congresswoman’s criticism could adversely impact progressive support for Yang’s NYC mayoral bid.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized fellow Democrat Andrew Yang, a New York City mayoral candidate, for his statement in support of Israel amid the most deadly conflict between Israel and Palestine in years.

Ocasio-Cortez expressed solidarity with Queens organizers who disinvited Yang from a Ramadan-related event on Tuesday following his pro-Israel statement.

“Utterly shameful for Yang to try to show up to an Eid event after sending out a chest-thumping statement of support for a strike killing 9 children, especially after his silence as Al-Aqsa was attacked,” she tweeted. “But then to try that in Astoria? During Ramadan?! They will let you know.”

Israeli airstrikes have killed 30 Palestinians, including 10 children, and injured 203 others, Gaza health officials reported on Tuesday night. At least three Israelis have been killed and 100 have been wounded by Hamas’ rocket attacks.

Yang said he believed he was asked not to attend the event, which involved distributing groceries ahead of Eid, because of his position on Israel.

“The organizers of the event decided it would be better if we did not attend and we were happy to abide by their wishes,” he told reporters Tuesday.

On Monday night, Yang tweeted out his staunchly pro-Israel statement.

“I’m standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks, and condemn the Hamas terrorists,” Yang wrote. “The people of NYC will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere.”

When Yang was confronted by a few New Yorkers in Astoria, Queens on Tuesday, he called the conflict “heartbreaking,” but wouldn’t condemn Israel’s airstrikes. This is the second time Ocasio-Cortez has publicly criticized Yang’s policy positions during his mayoral campaign, but the congresswoman has otherwise stayed out of the race.

A slew of conservatives, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, and TV host Meghan McCain, praised Yang’s comments. The hashtag #YangSupportsGenocide trended on Twitter.

Progressives have also criticized President Joe Biden and his administration for not speaking more strongly in defense of Palestinian civilians. A US State Department spokesperson called for “calm” and urged both sides to “de-escalate,” refusing to comment on the civilian deaths.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont progressive, called on the US to “speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and make clear that the evictions of Palestinian families must not go forward.”

“We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Saturday. “Israeli forces are forcing families from their homes during Ramadan and inflicting violence. It is inhumane and the US must show leadership in safeguarding the human rights of Palestinians.”

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Two NYC mayoral candidates think the median home in Brooklyn sells for less than $100,000. Only Yang guessed correctly.

donovan mcghuire brooklyn housing 2x1
New York City Democratic mayoral candidates Ray McGuire (left) and Shaun Donovan (right).

  • Two NYC mayoral candidates were way off target when asked to guess home prices in Brooklyn.
  • Democrats Shaun Donovan and Ray McGuire were off by around $800,000 on the median sale price.
  • Andrew Yang was the only one who answered correctly during his interview with The New York Times editorial board.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A pair of Democratic New York City mayoral candidates offered drastically low estimates when asked about the median housing price in Brooklyn.

Ex-Citigroup executive Ray Donovan estimated that the middle figure was around $80,000 to $90,000. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan guessed $100,00. Both were wrong – by some $800,000.

The question from Mara Gay of The New York Times editorial board took the pulse of how familiar the candidates are with the Big Apple’s affordable housing crisis.

“In Brooklyn, that number has gone up now,” McGuire said. “It depends on where in Brooklyn.”

Gay reiterated that it’s the median for the borough, meaning the price at which half of homes are more expensive and half are less.

“It’s got to be somewhere in the $80,000 to $90,000 range, if not higher,” McGuire said.

To that, Gay said: “The median sales price for a home in Brooklyn is $900,000.”

McGuire did, however, correctly estimate that the median rental price for an apartment in Manhattan is $3,000 per month.

Donovan, who ran the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2014, ended up offering an even lower figure.

“In Brooklyn, huh?” Donovan said in his interview. “I don’t [know] for sure. I would guess it is around $100,000.”

When Gay pointed to the $900,000 figure, Donovan asked if it included apartments. He later emailed the Times saying that his estimate referred to the assessed value of homes in the borough, adding “I really don’t think you can buy a house in Brooklyn today for that little.”

Frontrunner Andrew Yang ended up getting the figure spot-on when he was asked the same question.

“This is, like, blowing my mind, this question,” Yang said in his editorial board interview. “So median home – could be any size, right? So some of them would be very substantial. But you’re looking at the median, so you have to, like, whittle down. I would just say that the median – it’s going to be something, like, much higher than it should be. So the number that popped into my mind is $900,000.”

“That’s exactly right,” Gay replied.

“No way!” Yang said. “I was going to go with $800,00 or $900,000.”

Other candidates in the field overshot the figure, with City Comptroller Scott Stringer pegging it at around $1 million, and attorney Maya Wiley offering the highest estimate at $1.8 million. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams guessed that it was $550,000, while non-profit executive Diane Morales put it at $500,000.

Kathryn Garcia, former commissioner of the city’s Sanitation Department, said the median housing price in Brooklyn was $800,000. She received the Times endorsement.

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Republicans like Ted Cruz and Stephen Miller are cheering on Andrew Yang after he posted a pro-Israel tweet amid violent clashes with Palestinians

Andrew Yang
Democratic mayoral candidate Andrew Yang.

  • Israel and Hamas exchanged fire overnight amid new clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police.
  • The Democrat Andrew Yang weighed in on the issue, tweeting his support for Israel Monday night.
  • Yang’s comments got the support of Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz, Meghan McCain, and Stephen Miller.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Andrew Yang tweeted in support of Israel amid the country’s latest unrest with Palestinians on Monday, provoking anger from fellow liberals and support from top Republicans.

Yang, who is currently running to be mayor of New York City, tweeted late Monday that he is “standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks” and condemned “Hamas terrorists,” referring to the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip.

“The people of NYC will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere,” Yang tweeted.

Many found Yang’s pro-Israel statement distasteful, including the comedian David Cross who tweeted “nope” in response.

The US military whistleblower Chelsea Manning also tweeted: “Yikes.”

Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Springfield, Massachusetts chapter of the NAACP, said: “The systemic oppression, institutional discrimination, and violent persecution of Palestinians are crimes against humanity. It is wicked, evil, and inhumane.”

The hashtag #YangSupportsGenocide also trended overnight.

But Yang’s tweet also earned him praise from Republicans, who traditionally support a strong relationship between the US and Israel.

“Bravo to Yang for opposing the rabidly pro-Hamas & anti-Israel attacks from fellow Dems Omar & Tlaib,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted in response to Yang’s tweet, referring to the progressive Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashia Tlaib, who have both voiced support for Palestinians amid the renewed violence.

Stephen Miller, who worked as a senior advisor to former President Donald Trump, tweeted that Yang is “exactly right,” while Meghan McCain retweeted Yang’s tweet with the hashtag “#YANGGANG.”

The latest clashes between the Israelis and Palestinians date back to the start of Ramadan last month, when Israel moved to block some Palestinian gatherings.

In the ensuing weeks, there have been regular fights between the Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around Jerusalem’s Old City.

Fire billow from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, Gaza.
Fire from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on May 11, 2021.

The violence escalated to cross-border fire exchanges on Monday, with Hamas firing more than 200 rockets into Israel, and Israel conducting airstrikes on Gaza in response.

According to the Associated Press, 24 Palestinians – including nine children – have been killed in the Gaza airstrikes since sundown Monday, and six Israeli civilians were injured when one of the Hamas rockets hit an apartment building across the border.

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‘You had a good time there but come on back’: Andrew Yang wants New Yorkers who fled to ‘boring’ Florida to return

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang, who is currently leading the contenders in his Democratic primary run for mayor of New York City, rides the Staten Island Ferry during a campaign stop to the borough on February 26, 2021 in New York City.

  • Yang said that he’ll work to convince New Yorkers to return to the city from places like Florida.
  • He said that people will pay a premium “as long as we can make the case that New York City is back.”
  • Yang stressed that the private sector would play a critical role in the city’s economic recovery.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang says that if he’s elected to office this year, he’ll work to convince New Yorkers who fled to Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic to return, calling the Sunshine State “boring.”

During an episode of “The New Abnormal” featuring editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast, Yang described the importance of the business sector in helping revive New York’s economic fortunes to ensure that people will want to come back to the city.

“The goal has to be to try to justify the premium that organizations and individuals have paid to be in New York City because the opportunities here are better, the culture is better, the quality of life is better,” he said. “It’s a very tough sell when your costs are much higher and you can’t really make those arguments as compellingly.

He added: “My perspective running New York City is that we’re going to need the private sector to be a huge part of the recovery. We have lost approximately 300,000 New Yorkers, some of whom were very high earners and high taxpayers, where they decided to go someplace like Florida because they thought they could save a lot of money on taxes. That’s something we should be aware of try to to counteract.”

Yang said that he would stress school reopenings and the city’s enduring cultural appeal in convincing former residents to return to the city.

“I’m going to be calling people, saying, ‘Look, Florida’s boring.’ You had a good time there but come on back,” he said during the interview. “And by the way, the schools are open. The shows are open. Your friends are here and you know, you can pay a premium as long as we can make the case that New York City is back.”

Read more: Prosecuting Trump does not look like a DOJ priority under Biden’s attorney general. But watch Georgia and New York.

When Jong-Fast posed the question of how to placate wealthy New Yorkers who are fed up with the increased tax burden, Yang said that he’d like to tackle property tax reform in his potential administration.

“I have some of the same conversations, and the city itself does not control most of the taxes that the people you’re describing talk about,” he said. “The municipal government controls property taxes. There are issues with the property taxes that I would like to change and reform. But most of what you’re describing is happening in Albany, where they’re talking about higher state income taxes.”

Yang is currently competing in a competitive Democratic primary that includes Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former Civilian Complaint Review Board chair Maya Wiley, former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and longtime Wall Street executive Ray McGuire, among others.

The Democratic and Republican primaries will both be held in June, with the respective winners advancing to the November general election.

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Andrew Yang offended an LGBTQ political group with ‘Michael Scott levels of cringe and insensitivity,’ report says

Andrew Yang
In this March 11, 2021 file photo, Democratic mayoral candidate Andrew Yang holds a news conference in the Dumbo neighborhood of New York.

  • NYC mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang’s pitch to an LGBTQ political club went disastrously wrong, per a New York Times report.
  • Yang grated the members with glib references to gay bars and gay people being “a secret weapon.”
  • One member of the club described his pitch as having “Michael Scott levels of cringe.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City mayoral frontrunner Andrew Yang bewildered members of a prominent LGBTQ+ political club in the city with “Michael Scott levels of cringe” while trying to win their endorsement, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Several members of the Stonewall Democrats of New York City relayed to The Times and posted on Twitter that Yang offended the group by referring to the gay community as “so beautiful and human” and “a secret weapon,” and his constant references to gay bars and clubs.

Read more: 15 Gen Zers in the Biden administration share what inspires them and how to get a leg up in Washington

“I genuinely do love you and your community,” Yang said, according to a recording of a part of the event obtained by The Times. “You’re so human and beautiful. You make New York City special. I have no idea how we ever lose to the Republicans given that you all are frankly in, like, leadership roles all over the Democratic Party.”

“He kept calling us ‘Your community’, like we were aliens,” one member, filmmaker Harris Doran, told The Times.

“Oh man Andrew Yang at the Stonewall endorsement meeting was an inexperienced, ill informed joke who keep telling us his campaign manager was gay over and over and naming one gay bar over and over,” Doran also posted on Twitter on Wednesday night. “If you are thinking of voting for him, I beg of you, god help us, don’t.”

“When I see a candidate come in just with Michael Scott levels of cringe and insensitivity, it either tells me Andrew Yang is in over his head or is not listening to his staff,” Stonewall Club member Alejandra Caraballo told The Times. “Those are both radioactive flashing signs that say he is not prepared to be mayor of New York.”

The Democratic primary for mayor, which will be the first ranked-choice mayoral election in New York City’s history, is set to take place on June 22.

Yang was the first choice for 22% of likely Democratic primary voters in a recent Spectrum NY1/Ipsos poll, followed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams at 13%, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer at 11%, and former CitiGroup execute Ray McGuire at 6%.

The Stonewall Club chose to endorse Stringer for its first choice, nonprofit executive Dianne Morales for its second, and McGuire for its third.

Rose Christ, the club’s president, told The Times that Yang’s tone was “outdated,” and that his focus on gay bars and parades “are not the substantive issues that our membership cares about and it came off poorly.”

Sasha Neha Ahuja, one of Yang’s campaign managers who herself identifies at LGBTQ, told The Times: “I hope Andrew continues to have space for folks to listen with an open heart about the experiences of all communities that have been deeply impacted by years of oppression. I apologize if folks felt some type of way about it.”

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Andrew Yang has been hospitalized with an apparent kidney stone, his campaign says

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang

New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has been hospitalized with what appears to be a kidney stone, his campaign said.

He was taken to the emergency room after experiencing pain early Friday morning.

“After experiencing abdominal pain this morning, Andrew Yang visited an ER where he was diagnosed with what appears to be kidney stone,” campaign manager Chris Coffey said on Twitter. “He remains at the hospital with Evelyn. His events for the day are canceled, but he looks forward to getting back out on the trail soon.”

Earlier this year, Yang had to suspend in-person campaign events after testing positive for COVID-19.

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