President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis has put campaign stops in the spotlight.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Only 50 people attended Joe Biden’s speech in Michigan Friday. That was by design.
The speech, given outside the local hall for the United Food and Commercial Workers engaged in aggressive social distancing in the shadow of the announcement that President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.
White circles laid out in the UFCW parking lot in Grand Rapids designated the space each of the 50 attendees were given to ensure safe distance between each attendee, where the few live, in-person attendees sat comfortably. There was a smattering of applause when Biden took the stage, with most who saw the speech watching online.
Those people watching both on the ground and on the internet saw a candidate give a speech wearing a mask. Before touching down in Michigan, Biden tested negative for the coronavirus, and has continued to do so since.
This subdued and somber event is part of a pattern for Biden. His events have undergone rigorous coronavirus precautions and typically have had extremely limited in-person attendance. That contrasted with the large crowds and few masks present at Trump’s rallies.
“Be patriotic,” Biden said in Grand Rapids. “It’s not about being a tough guy, it’s about doing your part.”
Trump has routinely mocked Biden’s extensive coronavirus precautions, doing so most recently mere days before Trump announced his diagnosis. He has a long history of mocking Biden’s mask-wearing, but just two days before he tested positive, Trump threw another jab at coronavirus prevention.
“I don’t wear a mask like him,” Trump said, gesturing toward Biden during Tuesday’s presidential debate. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Following Trump’s positive test and a weekend TIME reported to be a rough one for his health, Biden announced he would release the results from every coronavirus test he takes going forward for transparency.
That’s crucial, because as USA Today explained, just because he hasn’t tested positive since the debate doesn’t mean Trump didn’t infect him at the debate. Several attendees of the announcement that Judge Amy Coney Barret would be Trump’s Supreme Court pick have since tested positive, and that announcement happened prior to the debate, meaning Trump was likely contagious on stage with Biden.
A negative test, like the ones Biden has gotten or that Trump had the morning before the debate, only means the patient isn’t shedding virus when tested, it doesn’t mean the virus isn’t brewing in their bodies, explained USA Today. And since Trump started showing symptoms Thursday and the virus is most infectious right before symptoms develop, there certainly is a chance attendees of the debate caught the virus from the president.
That makes Biden disclosing his test results for the coming days massively important.
Biden ended his 20-minute speech in a way that surprised the reporters on the ground—wishing President Trump well.
“I want to say God bless you, may God protect the first family and every family that is dealing with this virus, and may God protect our troops,” Biden said.