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Trump has held campaign events that don’t abide by public health guidelines from states and the federal health agency.
Public health experts have said that Trump and his administration did not have a plan to combat the pandemic nor a national testing plan.
Committees are working on recommendations for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
In a Spanish-language ad, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden casts President Donald Trump as inept in his response to the coronavirus pandemic and void of a plan to control the virus.
The 30-second ad, titled "Ignoró a los expertos" ("Ignored the experts" in English), features an image of Trump speaking at the White House and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, looking at Trump from the sidelines.
The ad includes a chart showing a spike in daily cases of COVID-19, a closed sign at a storefront, and a news report of demand growing at food banks. It ends with shots of Biden and others wearing masks and a pledge that Biden would deliver financial aid to workers and present Americans "a smart and safe plan that will get our jobs back." Another version of the ad — same narrative, different images — has aired in cities in Florida, a swing state.
Trump’s reelection campaign and the White House did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment about the ad.
Here’s a recap of the main claims in Biden’s ad, translated, fact-checked and with context.
Our fact-checking of claims related to the infection and mortality rates from COVID-19 show that the United States hasn’t fared well. Trump on Aug. 17 claimed that the U.S. COVID-19 numbers "are better than almost all countries." False.
Recently, Trump held campaign events that don’t abide by public health guidelines from states and the federal health agency.
At a Sept. 7 press conference, Trump claimed that Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s effort to devise countermeasures against the virus, and "groundbreaking therapies" deserved credit for "reducing the fatality rate 85% since April." That rated Half True.
New therapies are only part of the reason for a decline in the case-fatality rate from an earlier phase in the epidemic. A factor in a lower case-fatality rate is the huge increase in coronavirus testing. In the first weeks and months of the pandemic, testing focused on those who were more seriously ill, including nursing home residents. That kept the case-fatality rate high. By the time Operation Warp Speed announced its scope and leadership, most of the decline in the case-fatality rate had already happened.
Biden’s campaign pointed to Trump’s push for a quick re-opening of communities that shut down to slow the spread of the virus and his promotion of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, despite warnings and concerns from health experts.
Bloomberg noted that W-2s are "an imperfect measure for employment," since a single worker with several jobs would have multiple W-2 forms to fill out. "Still, the data suggest that it could take years for the U.S. economy to make up for the contraction suffered because of COVID-19," the report said.
Biden has blamed Trump for job losses during the pandemic and said Trump is "on track to leave office with the worst jobs record of any American president in modern history."
April’s 14.7% unemployment rate was the highest on record based on monthly unemployment rates available dating back to 1948.
But an expert told PolitiFact that the pandemic likely would have wiped out job gains during the Trump presidency no matter what policies were enacted in response to the virus. Most of the people who lost jobs in April worked in restaurants, retail and other hospitality jobs directly impacted by local orders to stay home and limit outings to essential activities.
At the Republican National Convention, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump "marshalled the full resources of the federal government and directed us to forge a seamless partnership with governors across America in both parties." We rated that Mostly False.
Pence’s comments ignored Trump’s multiple feuds, many times with Democratic governors, about state-federal responsibilities and pandemic response. Trump has indicated that the handling of COVID-19 should be left to the states, with the federal government playing a lesser role.
Even though Trump’s handling of the pandemic has been criticized as inconsistent and insufficient, committees are working on recommendations for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Biden in early August claimed there was no game plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine "if the vaccine came out tomorrow." We rated that Mostly True. A federal plan is in the works, though most of the experts PolitiFact spoke to said the government’s efforts have been too slow and that states faced too many unknowns to do their part in planning to vaccinate millions of people.
Biden made this call in August during the Democratic National Convention. But a nationwide mask mandate is easier said than done given current law.
The CDC could use a public health law to issue regulations mandating the use of masks, but the mandate would likely run into legal problems with the Constitution and other laws including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which requires courts to grant certain religious exemptions.
Also, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 10th Amendment prevents the federal government from controlling or requiring states to carry out federal directives. Congress could incentivize states to enact mask mandates, as long as the incentives aren’t considered significant enough to coerce or force states into enacting the mandate, said a Congressional Research Service report.
Opponents of masks say that the requirement violates their First Amendment rights. At least one federal court has already rejected this claim and said the requirement regulates conduct, not speech.
Staff writers Jon Greenberg, Louis Jacobson, Samantha Putterman, Amy Sherman and Kaiser Health News reporter Victoria Knight contributed to this report.
Email interview, Joe Biden’s spokesperson Rosemary Boeglin, Sept.15, 2020
Joe Biden campaign ad, "Ignoró a los expertos"
Orlando Sentinel, Campaña de Biden lanza anuncios bilingües criticando las políticas de Trump contra familias latinas, Aug. 25, 2020
PolitiFact, Trump oversells crediting White House response for falling COVID-19 fatality statistic, Sept. 9, 2020
PolitiFact, Pence in RNC speech praises Trump’s COVID-19 ‘seamless’ response, leaves out his state feuds, Aug. 27, 2020
PolitiFact, Donald Trump says US is at the top globally in COVID-19 fight. It isn’t., Aug. 18, 2020
PolitiFact, Joe Biden said there is no 'game plan' to distribute coronavirus vaccine. Is he right?, Aug. 11, 2020
PolitiFact, Trump wrong that hydroxychloroquine studies only gave drug to dying patients, May 20, 2020; Hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus: what you need to know, April 8, 2020
The Denver Post, Associated Press — Trump defies coronavirus rules as "peaceful protest" rallies grow, Sept. 15, 2020
Bloomberg, Millions of U.S. Jobs to Be Lost for Years, IRS Projections Show, Aug. 20, 2020
CNN.com, No signs Trump has a plan as experts say the pandemic enters new phase, Aug. 3, 2020
Washington Post, As the coronavirus crisis spins out of control, Trump issues directives — but still no clear plan, July 15, 2020
Vox.com, How Trump let Covid-19 win, Sept. 9, 2020
Congressional Research Service, Could the President or CongressEnact a Nationwide Mask Mandate?, Aug. 6, 2020
Constitution.congress.gov, 10th Amendment
Google Scholar, ANTIETAM BATTLEFIELD KOA v. Hogan, Dist. Court, D. Maryland 2020