It was a mostly maskless crowd, which intermittently chorused the phrase “four more years” in chants from chairs drawn closely together on the South Lawn as President Donald Trump gave his GOP acceptance speech. The absence of social-distancing and flouting of masks seemed to complete the game of make-believe that themed the week’s festivities: that the coronavirus pandemic was a nightmare of months ago — a non-reality.
Thursday’s mask-flouting crowd that largely ignored social distancing guidelines has been estimated at 1,500 — a gathering far larger than health officials have recommended to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta reported that a senior White House official had swatted away concerns to him earlier in the evening about the lack of social distancing at the President’s acceptance speech, saying, “everybody is going to catch this thing eventually.”
On the lack of social distancing or face masks at Trump’s #RNC2020 acceptance speech in the middle of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, a senior White House official tells @Acosta: “Everybody is going to catch this thing eventually.” ? pic.twitter.com/0T5e6r3BSx
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) August 28, 2020
The White House official’s remark comes as the President and his associates spent the week painting an alternate reality of COVID-19 as either a bygone concern or a very much receding threat.
Hundreds of Trump’s supporters cheered as he created the false illusion that his Democratic opponent Joe Biden posed a greater risk to American life than the coronavirus, which continues to kills Americans by the thousands a wrenching seven months after its first reported cases in the United States.
An overwhelming majority of guests were not administered rapid coronavirus tests, Trump campaign and convention officials told the Washington Post, citing the complexity of logistics to test such a large crowd despite their close proximity to the President and White House staff.
Two attendees told the Post in interviews that they were neither offered tests nor were they walked through more basic screening, such as temperature checks or questioning about potential symptoms.
Throughout the week the Biden campaign has focused its counterattacks on what they see as Trump’s failure to provide leadership or vision about how he will tackle the coronavirus which has killed more than 180,000 people in the United States to date.
Biden campaign press secretary TJ Ducklo, tweeted of Trump’s long-awaited 70-minute address that it was, the “lowest energy superspreader event I’ve ever seen.”
Biden deputy campaign manager and communications director, Kate Bedingfield fired back at the Trump campaign with a statement late Thursday rebuking the Trump administrations “delusional vision” of the reality faced by many Americans amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“Since the beginning of the Republican convention, at least 3,525 Americans have lost their lives to the coronavirus,” Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.
“Instead of a strategy to overcome the pandemic, or any concern for the unbearable suffering in our country right now as a result of his ongoing failures, what we heard was a delusional vision completely divorced from the crushing reality that ordinary Americans face,” she added.