The Race to the Oval Office: Coronavirus


Amintta Ragavanis

An illustration of Trump and Biden debating the coronavirus

The United States has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, a fact that many deem important amid the election. The deadly virus has affected the lives of all Americans over the past six and a half months. Throughout the pandemic, many Americans voiced their belief that they should be free to do as they please; they have refused to wear masks and socially distance. Others believe that the virus has been mismanaged and could have been slowed months ago if President Donald Trump had followed the advice of scientists. No matter one’s political viewpoint, coronavirus is one of the major factors in deciding who one votes for in the upcoming election. While Trump and Joe Biden have had different approaches to the virus, both of their viewpoints appeal to large numbers of Americans, once again displaying the deep divide in the country. Many wonder how America has gotten to this point, and how having a different president in office would have or will impact the lives of Americans.

Two hundred thousand people died from and almost seven million people have been infected by the coronavirus in America. Though the numbers are relatively high, President Trump has done some things to aid the nation that are viewed by some as positive, and he feels he has done an “A+” job responding to the pandemic. When the threat of the virus came to light in the U.S. in January, President Trump assured the nation that “[The virus] is going to disappear,” as stated on Politico. In the following months, he continued with his strategy of downplaying the severity of COVID-19. Just recently, it was revealed that in an interview with Bob Woodward, “Trump admitted to downplaying the severity of the coronavirus in early 2020. Trump has argued he did so to avoid panic,” according to Daily Caller ( Reportedly, Trump further claimed on Twitter that, “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power…to inflame the Coronavirus situation.” Because Trump downplayed the virus, there was a lack of testing at the beginning of the outbreak in the U.S. In many of his briefings, President Trump has refused to wear a mask; this has caused many citizens to follow him and not wear masks in public, even though the CDC has proven that wearing a mask slows the spread of the virus. Despite some of the efforts President Trump has made, at many of his recent rallies, his supporters were not socially distanced. However, he mass-produced ventilators for hospitals, and whenever he had seen a hotspot emerge, he sent resources to it. Economically, he was able to save millions of jobs by enacting the Paycheck Protection Program. The virus has caused much economic distress, and the Trump administration has used its power to assuage the financial burdens the pandemic caused. Many orders were signed to give unemployment aid, assistance to renters and homeowners, and extend student loan relief. Through all the hardships that coronavirus has brought, Trump and his administration hope to have a vaccination by the end of the year, though health officials have contradicted this claim. President Trump has remained positive that the U.S. is on the path towards recovery.

A large part of Biden’s campaign has been highlighting the Trump administration’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden believes that “Coronavirus is not Donald Trump’s fault. But he does bear responsibility for [the country’s] response and taking his duties seriously. His failings and his delays [are] causing real pain for so many Americans,” according to the LA Times. The damage has been done, and if elected, Biden vows to provide a wide availability of free testing, develop a vaccine, make it affordable to prevent and care for COVID-19, and to deploy all supplies, personnel, and facilities necessary to stop the spread of the virus. The virus has no doubt damaged the economy, and part of Biden’s plan is to give emergency paid leave to those affected by the virus. Biden believes Americans should wear masks to contain the spread of the virus, and he has worn one during all his public appearances. Additionally, he has not held large rallies, although he is still campaigning in cities throughout the United States. At a recent rally in Wisconsin, Biden slammed President Trump for his handling of the virus, and alluded to Bob Woodward’s recent book; Biden stated, “We hear [President Trump] privately saying this is a deadly virus, far more deadly than any flu, but that’s not what he was saying to us publicly. Publicly he told us it was just like the flu and it would disappear in the warm weather, just like a miracle. It was all a lie. He knew it. What’s his explanation? He said he didn’t want to see the American people panic. He didn’t want to panic them.” President Trump and his allies have nicknamed Biden “Sleepy Joe” because of his age and their belief he is mentally unfit to lead the country. Though Biden has criticized President Trump for not closing down the nation quick enough, he called the President “xenophobic” when travel restrictions were enacted against China. And, though he has proposed a plan for his solution to the pandemic, he has spent much time bashing the President’s response. 

The pandemic will not be over on election day, and it will not be over when the election is over; whoever is elected will need to get the nation back to “normal.” President Trump and his administration have tried hard to combat the virus while in office. They have provided financial aid to those in need and have tried to keep the country calm amidst all the uncertainty the pandemic has brought. Biden and his administration have repeatedly claimed they will be able to handle the pandemic if elected. The results of this election are very likely to be influenced by the pandemic. Both candidates will be questioned further about the pandemic during the first debate. Stay tuned.