COVID-19 could be a major player in presidential election

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The coronavirus has claimed the lives of six people and has infected more than 100 in the United States.

President Trump and Vice President Pence met Monday with pharmaceutical executives wanting a vaccine developed as soon as possible.

“Today’s meeting is a reflection of the fact that this President understands that industry is a part of the one team in America that’s going to address the Coronavirus in this country,” Pence said.

But some say the White House isn’t doing enough to protect the country from the virus.

Political science professor at Drury University, Dan Ponder, Ph.D, says over the next few weeks, it’s possible the virus could become a major issue in the 2020 presidential election.

“If it spreads, I think, it’s going to definitely be a big part of the rhetoric in the election,” Ponder said.

Ponder says Democrats say the president has put the nation in a vulnerable state by getting rid of Obama-era positions dedicated to combat infectious diseases.

“If it does spread and it depends on what the administration tries to do, I think, obviously, you’re going to see Democratic candidates make the case that, not only was the country not prepared for this, but actions by President Trump in the last few years actively made us much more vulnerable,” Ponder said.

“This is up to the scientists and the doctors as to whether there is a problem,” said Democratic Presidential Candidate Mike Bloomberg on 60 minutes Sunday. “And it is just ignorant and irresponsible to not stand up and be the leader and say, ‘We don’t know, but we have to prepare for the fact that, if it is, we have the medicines and the structure and the knowledge to deal with it.'”

But Ponder says Republicans say the Democrats are making it a bigger deal than it is and that the situation is being handled correctly.

“If they’re able to contain it, obviously that’ll be a much more advantage to the Trump side,” Ponder said. “They’ll be able to keep bringing that up and being able to say this was a potential outbreak and it was contained and make that a political win for the president.”

But in reality, it’s all still up in the air.

“Right now, I think it’s still fairly chaotic in the political response on both sides, in terms of how people look at this and what’s actually going to happen,” Ponder said.

Ponder says the virus could eventually impact the budget and relocation of money – depending on how vast the spread of COVID-19 becomes.

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