Two hundred thousand empty dining room and kitchen chairs.
Speaking in Manitowoc, Wis., as the country has summited the grim tally of 200,000 coronavirus-related deaths, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden compared the unprecedented loss to the image of vacant seats — a haunting symbol of families ripped apart when the virus has stolen our chance to grieve in person.
“We can’t let the numbers become statistics or background noise, just a blur that we see on the nightly news,” Biden said. “Two hundred thousand moms, dads, sons, daughters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, co-workers, who are no longer with us. And so many of them didn’t have to lose their lives to this virus.”
Biden wore a mask during his speech, which was harped on by conservative commentators — and is also required in Wisconsin. The state has seen a recent surge in cases, pushing Gov. Tony Evers (D) to enact a face-covering requirement until Sept. 28. The state’s seven-day average for new confirmed infections was 1,877 cases Monday, double what it was two weeks ago. The state also leads the country with the highest positivity rate for coronavirus testing at 17 percent.
President Trump’s delayed response to the pandemic, Biden said in his speech, as he has argued before, cost the country valuable time to stock up on protective equipment, educate the population and implement lifesaving guidelines.
“He froze,” Biden said. “He failed to act. He panicked. And America has paid the worst price of any nation in the world.”
Biden also criticized Trump’s political rallies for putting more lives in danger as mask-less audience members do not stand six feet apart. Trump held rallies in airport hangars over the weekend in Bemidji, Minn., and Fayetteville, N.C. Biden said Trump was being insincere for allowing his supporters to gather as he eludes close contact with crowds.
“Next time he holds one, look closely,” Biden said. “Trump keeps his distance from anyone at the rally. The folks who come are packed in tight as they can be, risking disease, mostly without masks. But not Trump. He safely keeps his distance.”