Days after the first presidential debate, in which President Trump mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask, he confirmed in a tweet that he and his wife first lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

By Airiel Braswell
Special to the AFRO

During the Sept. 29 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Trump criticized Biden’s choice to wear a mask in public settings and the 45th Commander-in-Chief said he only wears it when he “feels it was necessary.” 

On Oct. 2, news accounts and administration officials confirmed that Trump and first lady Melania both tested positive for COVID-19. The president was placed in quarantine, and his ability to participate in the next debate on Oct. 15 is in doubt, while Biden and his both tested negative for the virus.

During a TV debate watch party, reactions to the Trump mask comment turned heads in amazement. “Did really question why wears a mask when he’s outside, even after the CDC said wearing a mask might be more effective than a vaccine right now?” Chanice Hutton, student at Community College of Baltimore County, asked rhetorically.

“There is an astonishing lack of lack of professionalism within the banter between the incumbent president and the Democratic nominee, but it’s honestly not at all shocking,” said Gian Brownelese, a graduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park and Morgan State University alumnus. 

“The Coronavirus was not taken seriously and lives basically had to be sacrificed in order for the government to step in and step up,” he added.  

Between 90 minutes of insults and low blows, both men gave their stances on the U.S. health crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States hard and claimed the lives of 207,000 Americans since January. Biden said Trump was aware of how serious COVID was in February yet ignored the problem until it spun out of control. 

The 45th president challenged that statement, saying that his administration tackled the virus aggressively and “saved millions of lives.” Trump also said that a COVID vaccine is in the works and will be ready for the public in a few weeks. 

Drug manufacturers and government scientists, however, insist that a safe vaccine probably will not be ready until after the Nov. 3 election. 

The writer is a student at the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.