Speed Reads

RNC 2020

Melania Trump's lauded COVID-19 empathy was undercut by her mask-less, mingling RNC audience

First lady Melania Trump was the first person at the Republican National Convention to acknowledge the pain and suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, a frequent theme at last week's Democratic National Convention. Unlike most of the speeches at the RNC and DNC, she had a small audience in the Rose Garden. And they clearly didn't follow COVID-19 best practices.

"COVID-19 swept across our beautiful country and impacted all of us," Trump said in her speech. "My deepest sympathy goes out to all of you who have lost a loved one and my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering. I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone. My husband’s administration will not stop fighting until there is an effective treatment or vaccine available to everyone. Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic."

Setting aside how Trump has handled the pandemic in real life, until an effective treatment or vaccine is available, we have face masks and social distancing.

"Watching this crowd disperse, I am having renewed anxiety about the lack of masking and distancing," New York Times science reporter Katherine Wu wrote in a live chat. Everyone there might have been tested beforehand, but the rapid tests aren't all that accurate, and "they might find they have different results a couple days from now."

But "taking advantage of the expansive COVID testing capacity at the White House is allowing Trump to create the impression that we are in a post-pandemic world," added Times economics reporter Alan Rappeport, even while "many students are preparing for virtual school next week, many restaurants will be closing down, and many people will be applying for more unemployment insurance."