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Jacobin - March 31, 2020

"Symone Sanders {Joe Biden's senior advisor} openly stated that Bernie Sanders’s public health concern was unfounded, even though Bernie Sanders had cited the CDC’s recommendation that gatherings of fifty people or more were unsafe — which, as Cuomo pointed out, would include voting at almost every polling station. Yet Biden’s senior adviser asserted that the CDC had assured the public that the elections were safe, urging people to vote based on a false promise of safety."

Donald Trump is the single individual in US society most responsible for spreading dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 in the midst of a global pandemic. Anyone who echoes him, or his administration’s entreaties to not take going out in public too seriously, is engaging in public endangerment. Anyone who actively encourages people to gather in mass, and in close proximity, is doing so at a mass scale.

So why, in contravention of Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and health experts’ urgings, did the DNC and Joe Biden’s campaign do just that at immense scale earlier this month, as major cities were already closing public spaces? And why have media that have deservedly taken Trump and his administration to task for their fatal failures not done the same with Democratic leadership?

If a senior adviser to President Donald Trump falsely claimed on national television that the CDC had declared that it was safe to vote in person, despite its actual recommendation to the contrary, the adviser and the president would be rightly condemned by much of corporate media as, at best, incompetent and ignorant, and, at worst, dishonest and reckless in encouraging people to put their lives at risk.

And if poll workers had contracted COVID-19 at locations which violated CDC recommendations, the adviser and the president would be rightly blamed for exposing them to the virus.

Yet after the CDC on March 15 advised the public to cancel all gatherings of more than fifty people, a senior adviser to Joe Biden, the current frontrunning Democratic presidential candidate, went on CNN and claimed the CDC had deemed in-person voting safe. And not a single major media outlet reported on it.

Nor did they report on the actual dangerous conditions at multiple primary voting sites, and the exposure of trusting citizens to the coronavirus that the adviser’s reckless advice had encouraged. And it wasn’t just one irresponsible adviser that put people at risk: DNC chair Tom Perez made misleading statements, downplayed the dangers and exaggerated the preparedness of voting sites, and criticized and threatened states which wanted to postpone their primaries. The Biden campaign as well as the DNC put politics over people, exposing countless voters to a fatal virus.

We now know that at least two poll workers at locations described as safe by Perez and the Biden campaign have contracted COVID-19. It’s unknown how many more poll workers, voters, and the people they came into contact with will also contract the virus.

Senior Biden campaign adviser Symone Sanders made the dishonest statements during a post-debate interview on Sunday night, March 15. This was hours after the CDC released a statement (3/15/20) that advised canceling all gatherings of fifty or more people. The CDC advisory was mentioned at the very beginning of the debate, and also during Anderson Cooper’s post-debate interview with Bernie Sanders. When Cooper asked the Vermont senator, “Should there be a primary on Tuesday” in light of the CDC’s recommendation, Bernie Sanders responded:

That is a very good question, and as you know, Louisiana and Georgia and Puerto Rico have delayed their elections. Postponed them, they’ve got dates in the future. Look, election dates are very, very important. We don’t want to be getting into the habit of messing around with them. But you remember, and I just researched this, 9/11, you know there was a primary in New York City…. And it was canceled, for obvious reasons, in New York City, and it was rescheduled two weeks later.

I would hope the governors listen to the public health experts, and they’re saying … we don’t want gatherings of fifty or more people. And when I think about some of the elderly people sitting behind the desks, registering people and all that, does that make a lot of sense? I’m not sure that it does.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo referred to the CDC update, as well as to Bernie Sanders’s response to it during his interview with Symone Sanders, asking her:

CDC says no groupings bigger than fifty, that’s like every polling station except in very small counties. The idea of delaying primaries, Senator Sanders seemed comfortable with that; we should listen to what the CDC says. We should delay the primaries if we have to. What are your concerns?

Unlike Bernie Sanders, however, Symone Sanders’s chief concern seemed to be making sure that the primaries were not postponed:

Our democracy is extremely important. Even in times of strife in this country, we have to do our duty. So the CDC and folks have said it’s safe out there for Tuesday. So I don’t know what Senator Sanders was talking about…. So I encourage people to get out there and vote on Tuesday.

Symone Sanders openly stated that Bernie Sanders’s public health concern was unfounded, even though Bernie Sanders had cited the CDC’s recommendation that gatherings of fifty people or more were unsafe — which, as Cuomo pointed out, would include voting at almost every polling station. Yet Biden’s senior adviser asserted that the CDC had assured the public that the elections were safe, urging people to vote based on a false promise of safety. ...
Read full report at Jacobin