On August 27, 2020, during the fourth night of the Republican National Convention (RNC), President Donald Trump hosted more than 1,000 people on the White House lawn to listen to his (and Ivanka Trump's) speech officially accepting the 2020 Republican nomination for president. Masks were not required. No social distancing was enforced. The White House coronavirus task force was reportedly not consulted about the convention plans. The display was another example of the president's disregard for science (despite his claim that "we are focusing on the science, the facts, and the data"), and lack of effective plan for ending the pandemic.
Over the past six months, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence (the latter leads the coronavirus task force) have left the work of controlling COVID-19 up to governors and mayors, criticizing Democrat-led states about their case numbers and repeatedly calling them "ill-prepared." Trump has frequently stated that "we have it totally under control," referring to the virus. Yet, today, there are more than 200,000 deaths and 6 million cases in the United States. The unmasked crowds at the White House could have been a super spreader for COVID-19; cases will continue to rise.
Since Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have officially accepted the Democratic nomination for president and vice president, respectively, the candidates have been clear about how they will tackle COVID-19 upon being elected to office. In August, Senator Harris tweeted three main points of Biden's coronavirus plan that he will enact on day one, including deploying rapid tests with immediate results, manufacturing medical supplies and PPE, and implementing a nationwide mask mandate. (The CDC Director has stated that a universal mask mandate for six weeks could significantly decrease the spread of COVID-19.) In order to safely reopen the whole country and jumpstart the economy, we must first defeat the virus.
Biden explained this in his Democratic National Convention (DNC) speech as well:
"If I’m president on day one we’ll implement the national strategy I’ve been laying out since March.
We’ll develop and deploy rapid tests with results available immediately.
We’ll make the medical supplies and protective equipment our country needs. And we’ll make them here in America. So we will never again be at the mercy of China and other foreign countries in order to protect our own people.
We’ll make sure our schools have the resources they need to be open, safe, and effective.
We’ll put the politics aside and take the muzzle off our experts so the public gets the information they need and deserve. The honest, unvarnished truth. They can deal with that.
We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask-not as a burden, but to protect each other.
It’s a patriotic duty."
Meanwhile, President Trump commended Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for lifting COVID-19 restrictions statewide in late September, despite an increase in cases, and has not improved on his original "Opening America" plan. There have also been conflicting reports from the president himself about the timeline for a vaccine, as well as a distribution strategy. On September 28, President Trump announced that he plans to deploy 150 million rapid tests in the coming weeks, but who gets tested will likely be at the discretion of the governors. While the logistics get worked out, President Trump continues to hold crowded campaign rallies without social distancing or mask requirements.
Recently, a tweet of Biden's from October 2019 (five months before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic) recirculated. It warned that our country was unprepared for a pandemic. "We are not prepared for a pandemic. Trump has rolled back progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security," he said. "We need leadership that builds public trust, focuses on real threats, and mobilizes the world to stop outbreaks before they reach our shores."
You can read Biden and Harris' full seven-point COVID-19 plan here.