Voters in November will decide who should lead them into what could be some of the darkest months of the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus has disrupted virtually every aspect of normal life. It upended the economy, changed the way people work and travel, challenged health care workers and facilities and forced drastic changes on education and day care systems. In the U.S., it has infected over 8.3 million and killed more than 220,000, and those numbers are likely to be an undercount.
Considering the time lost by those who have died, one analysis estimated that the death toll means more than 2.5 million years of potential life has been claimed by the virus in the U.S.
The U.S. reports the most infections and deaths of any country, and one of those 8.3 million infected was President Donald Trump, who required supplemental oxygen twice and was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He declared his battle with the virus as a “blessing from God” after receiving experimental treatments for his illness.
Some experts have warned that the U.S. has entered the third peak of its coronavirus outbreak. As the country heads deeper into fall and winter, and cold weather pushes more people indoors, researchers believe the virus will spread more easily. The challenge could also be compounded by the flu season.
Cartoons on the 2020 Election
It has been suggested that life won’t return to a “new normal” until there is an effective vaccine. Possible candidates are being developed faster than ever before, with several showing promise in early trial results.
The coronavirus is even upending the electoral process – from massive lines for early voting to increases in mail-in ballot requests – though it isn’t clear what effect it will have on overall voter turnout.
“The real impact that it may have on the election is how it’s going to change voting patterns, and I don’t think anyone knows exactly how that’s going to play out,” says John Farmer, the director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.
Where the 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand on the Coronavirus:
President Donald Trump on the Coronavirus
Early in the outbreak, the Trump administration created the White House Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate and oversee its “efforts to monitor, prevent, contain, and mitigate the spread” of the virus. Regular task force briefings that included scientists eventually faded out and were replaced by solo events for Trump to tailor his own message on the pandemic.
And his message has been one of minimization and diversion.
“I think at this point Trump is running on the idea that he did a great job dealing with coronavirus and that there are very few concerns now and that it’s really nothing for people to worry about,” says Monika McDermott, a professor of political science at Fordham University. “Of course, him having gotten it himself and having recovered so quickly helps him to make that message.”
Getting infected “allowed him