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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke August 19, 2020

Posters take old Biden campaign photos to falsely say campaign is violating mask rules

If Your Time is short

  • These photos are from before the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Michigan and before the state required people to wear face coverings. They're not from the Democratic National Convention.

Recent Facebook posts critical of Democrats feature three photos, all showing the same celebratory scene. 

Standing behind a podium that says "Biden" and "Michigan," Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, cheer, hug and hold hands all while flanked by rows of people holding their phones up to capture the moment. 

"Last night at the DNC!! Hypocrites! Can we get back to living now???" one person who shared the image wrote.

"Mask?" another poster wrote. "Only you SHEEP need masks! No 6ft distance or masks here! They all must be immune to covid!"

"Not a mask in sight, Governor," wrote another person who shared the images. "Tell me again why you are trying to force Michigan to wear one." 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

These photos aren’t from the Democratic National Convention, which is happening remotely, or from Biden and Harris’ first appearance together after the presidential nominee named her his running mate. 

These photos are from March 9, when the politicians gathered for a Biden campaign rally at a high school in Detroit

This was before the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Michigan, and well before the state required people to wear face coverings.

Here are some relevant dates, which the Detroit Free-Press includes in its comprehensive timeline of the coronavirus in the state.

On Jan. 25, three people from Michigan were tested for COVID-19 but the tests came back negative. 

On Jan. 29, the Detroit Metro Airport started screening people for COVID-19.

On Feb. 5, a sick traveler at the airport is suspected of having COVID-19 but cleared the following day. 

By Feb. 25, about 325 people in Michigan were being monitored for the disease and self-isolating. There were only 34 confirmed cases in the United States at that point. 

On March 2, the U.S. surgeon general asks people not to stockpile masks. 

On March 10, the state’s department of health and human services identified the first two presumptive-positive COVID-19 cases in Michigan. Whitmer declared an emergency. 

On March 12, Whitmer ordered the state’s schools to close for three weeks.

On March 13, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency. Whitmer issued a press release that day about a temporary ban on large gatherings and urged people to stay 5 feet away from each other in public settings.  

On March 16, Whitmer ordered bars, restaurants, theaters and casinos to close, and she restricted gatherings to less than 50 people.  

On March 23, she issued a stay-at-home order. 

On April 1, she declared a state disaster.

On April 24, more than a month after Biden’s campaign rally, Whitmer signed an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces. 

This Facebook post, though, suggests that the politicians in the photos are flouting the restrictions that the state has imposed on residents to try to stop the spread of COVID-19. In reality, the rally happened before such limitations existed. 

We rate this post False.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Sen. Cory Booker is from New Jersey. The story initially said he was from New York. 

Our Sources

Facebook post, Aug. 18, 2020​

Getty Images photos of Joe Biden’s campaign rally in Detroit, March 9, 2020

Detroit Free Press, A look back at when the coronavirus started and how it spread in Michigan, updated June 30, 2020

Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, State recommends community mitigation strategies to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 in Michigan, March 11, 2020

Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Governor Whitmer orders temporary prohibition on large assemblages and events, March 13, 2020

Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Governor Whitmer signs "Stay home, stay safe" executive order, March 23, 2020

Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Governor Whitmer Extends Stay Home, Stay Safe Order, Directs Michiganders to Wear Homemade Masks in Enclosed Public Spaces, April 24, 2020

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Posters take old Biden campaign photos to falsely say campaign is violating mask rules

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