Mr. Biden and his campaign have for months sought to make the race a referendum on Mr. Trump and, in particular, his stewardship of the virus response. Mr. Biden’s team believes that the president’s conduct around his diagnosis has further highlighted the contrasts between the two campaigns and their approaches to a virus that has killed 211,000 people in the United States and caused staggering economic fallout.
Mr. Trump has mocked masks, held large-scale rallies and minimized the risks of the virus even after contracting it. “Don’t be afraid of Covid,” he tweeted on Monday. After taking a drive with Secret Service agents to greet supporters on Sunday — alarming some medical experts — he returned to the White House from the hospital on Monday and ripped off his mask, even as positive cases among his staff continued to grow.
Mr. Biden had moved to take down negative ads after news of Mr. Trump’s positive test last week, but with the president out of the hospital, the Biden campaign confirmed Wednesday that it was resuming “contrast and negative spots” along with pressing an affirmative case for the former vice president. The president had already resumed his attacks in recent days on Democrats, including Mr. Biden.
Representatives for Mr. Trump’s campaign did not respond to questions about the president’s plans for the debates and around testing.
Former Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, a Republican who has attended Trump rallies during the pandemic, dismissed any idea that Mr. Trump’s approach to the virus set a bad example or was imprudent.
“Everyone’s making choices,” he said. “They assess risk and make choices that are right for them, their families. Some say they are going to wear masks, some choose not to. In a free society, that’s what we allow for.”
Mr. Biden, by contrast, has called for mask mandates and has cast wearing a mask as a patriotic duty. He faced criticism for months — from Republicans and some Democrats — for running an exceptionally cautious campaign with very little in-person campaigning. Even now he is holding only tightly controlled, socially distanced events. But in a stark reversal of campaign activities, it is now Mr. Biden who remains on the trail, while Mr. Trump is at home.
During the first seven months of 2020, according to preliminary data provided by the Baltimore Health Department, reports of sexually transmitted diseases were down in the city. Compared to last year, reports of chlamydia decreased by 20%. Reports of gonorrhea and HIV dropped, too.
But these numbers may be deceiving, thanks in large part to complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic, warned Dr. Adena Greenbaum, assistant commissioner of clinical services at the city’s health department. In fact, she and other sexual health experts are bracing for STD rates to get worse.
“That’s just STDs that were reported — it doesn’t mean that they weren’t there,” she said of the preliminary data, which has yet to be finalized. “I don’t think the actual decrease in STDs was that severe during that time. I just think it really shows what happens when the reporting system closes down, or really gets reduced capacity.”
The pandemic has forced clinics and health care providers to cut back on in-person testing services and outreach efforts. With a new infectious disease to track, Baltimore City has also had to divert its contact tracing manpower from STDs.
Even before COVID-19 hit, STDs were at an all-time high across the U.S. According to an analysis done by a health services research group on data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Baltimore City had the highest STD rate in the country, with 2,004 cases per 100,000 people as of 2018.
Still, the concerns of Baltimore experts are echoed nationwide. A National Coalition of STD Directors survey at the start of the pandemic found that 83% of STD programs reported deferring services or field visits as a direct result of the coronavirus, and 66% of clinics reported a drop in sexual health screening and testing. All jurisdictions surveyed expressed concern about how the service restrictions would impact the vulnerable populations they serve.
In Baltimore, before the pandemic, no appointment was necessary to visit one of the two sexual health clinics run by the city’s health department. Now walk-ins aren’t permitted, and the city is only offering limited testing to those who are symptomatic — encouraging others to request a personal test kit from a program run out of Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, the city has yet to send its mobile outreach vans back out into the community.
Chase Brexton Health Care, however, has continued offering HIV testing on a walk-in basis. The health network’s social workers have also “intensified” outreach to their existing patients with HIV, reaching quite a few who had fallen out of care, said Dr. Sebastian Ruhs, chief medical officer for Chase Brexton. Perhaps as a result, he said, the number of patients who have an undetectable viral load has improved slightly during the pandemic.
However, the network hasn’t been able to continue offering testing for other types of STDs for those who aren’t Chase Brexton patients, due to COVID-19 restrictions and staffing issues.
Dascha Polanco Partners with Knorr to Encourage Americans to Register to Vote
This election season, a record 54 million people living in America face food insecurity*. Today, Knorr, in partnership with Dascha Polanco – an actress who has formerly experienced food insecurity and was a recipient of SNAP benefits – is launching #FeedTheVote. This partnership will work to drive voter registration across the US to ensure people experiencing food insecurity can make their voices heard where it matters most – at the ballot box. Through social media and on-site locations throughout the country, Knorr will provide education, resources, and access to nutritious food to encourage voter registration and advocacy for millions of Americans experiencing food insecurity.
Since 1979 Knorr has worked closely with Feeding America, The Food Trust, and other partners to provide families with consistent access to nutritious food. The brand is now advocating for wider systemic change with Dascha Polanco to elevate the connection between hunger, food assistance and voting this election season.
“Quite simply, no one should go hungry. At Knorr, we believe everyone should have access to affordable and nutritious food. As we strive to make that belief a reality through our products and recipes, we know that food access is a government funding issue – and thus, a voting issue,” said Bentley King, Director, Savory North America at Unilever. “Working hand in hand with experts in this space like Feeding America, UnidosUS and our partner Dascha, we’re committed to encouraging everyone to register to vote and enabling Americans to impact policy that help their family eat healthier.”
Today, Dascha Polanco and a team of #FeedTheVote ambassadors will share empty plates to symbolize the millions of Americans who will not have food on the table unless elected officials make hunger and food access a priority this November. Posts will link to Knorr’s #FeedTheVote website where followers can register to vote and learn more about how they can advocate for access to nutritious food.
“As someone who knows what it feels like to not know where your next meal is coming from, I was inspired to do everything in my power to draw attention to the difference we can make by voting,” said Dascha Polanco. “I’m excited to partner with Knorr to educate Americans about the power of their vote and the steps they can take to become part of the solution in ending food insecurity.”
#FeedTheVote has also collaborated with UnidosUS to provide 4,000 families with resources to create nutritious meals at home. As the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, UnidosUS has been at the forefront of alleviating food insecurity and has actively registered and educated new voters. At select UnidosUS partner affiliate sites people can register to vote, locations include:
AAMA (The Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans): 6001 Gulf Freeway, Houston, TX 77023
Chicano Federation: 3180 University Avenue, Suite 400, San Diego, CA 92104
Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) : 12000 East 47th