It was announced on the show on Friday that host Sunny Hostin and guest host Ana Navarro both had breakthrough cases of Covid-19. Both were at the table for the “Hot Topics” segment at the start of the programme. A White House official said Ms Harris didn’t interact with either of the hosts, CNN reported.
Hosts Sara Haines and Joy Behar said the table had been cleaned and disinfected.
Ms Harris then appeared virtually on the show out of caution to speak about migration at the southern border, the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the fight for women’s reproductive rights following the passing of a restrictive abortion law in Texas.
“Sunny and Ana are strong women and I know they’re fine, but it really also does speak to the fact that they’re vaccinated and vaccines really make all the difference because otherwise, we would be concerned about hospitalisation and worse,” Ms Harris said.
Some time after Ms Hostin and Ms Navarro were abruptly asked to leave the set by production staff, fellow host Joy Behar told viewers that “what happened is that Sunny and Ana apparently both tested positive for Covid – no matter how hard we try, these things happen, they probably have a breakthrough case and they’ll be okay, I’m sure, because they’re both vaccinated up the wazoo! You know, a lot of vaccines”.
The producer of the show told the remaining hosts that “everything is just being done to be as safe as humanly possible, so what we’re going to try to do now is do an interview with the vice president remotely in a couple of minutes”.
“That’s the plan – we’re going to talk to her from another room ... even though she’s here ... just to be safe,” he added.
What followed was a long delay with the hosts taking questions from masked audience members and with Ms Harris finally appearing in the last 10 minutes of the programme.
“Before we go into the pandemic question that I have for you, I just want to say, I hope that you’re in a safe spot right now,” Ms Behar told the vice president. “We did everything we could to make sure you’re safe because we value you so much.”
Ms Harris was asked if it was time to get “tougher” in terms of vaccine mandates and to “make life less pleasant for the unvaccinated”. The vice president urged Americans to “be responsible”.
“I’ve been watching, like many of you, with heartache, the videos of people who are in an ICU bed, who didn’t get vaccinated, pleading with their family members [to] please get vaccinated,” she said.
“When I think of it in the context of any one of us who have had the awful experience of holding the hand of a loved one who is in an ICU bed or is near death – don’t put your families through that. The vaccine is free. It is safe, and it will save your life. So, folks just need to get vaccinated,” she added.
Ms Harris said the actions of border agents aggressively trying to push back migrants crossing the border with Mexico into Del Rio, Texas were “horrible and deeply troubling”.
“There’s an investigation being conducted, which I fully support and there needs to be consequences and accountability,” Ms Harris said. “Human beings should not be treated that way and it also invoked images of some of the worst moments of our history where that kind of behaviour has been used against the indigenous people of our country, has been used against African-Americans during times of slavery and so I’m glad that the Department of Homeland Security secretary is taking it very seriously.”
“Please come back, we want you back,” Ms Behar told Ms Harris as the chaotic show was wrapping up. “And I promise you, it’ll be different.”
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