The 2020 presidential debate is taking place in Cleveland, Ohio, at Case Western Reserve University, a location that was chosen because it could safely harbor the event while following precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic — but only one member of President Donald Trump‘s family wore a mask during the debate.
Everyone except for the speakers, Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, and the moderator, Chris Wallace, were required to masks at all times, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates Co-chairman Frank Fahrenkopf, WOSU reported. However, members of Trump’s family, including Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump, all sitting in the front row, did not wear masks. Only Melania Trump was seen wearing a mask during the debate.
“A Cleveland Clinic doctor with masks just walked up to a number of unmasked members of the audience on Trump’s side of the room and asked them to put on masks,” Bloomberg News reporter Tyler Pager tweeted. “She told me they refused to take one and wear them.”
Pager pointed out on Twitter that “everyone in Biden’s side of the hall is wearing a mask. More than half on Trump’s side, including his four children, are not wearing masks. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s a requirement that all guests wear masks.”
Even though the audience could seat 1,500 people, only 80 to 90 people were allowed inside. Everyone in the audience was required to take a COVID-19 test and produce a negative result before being allowed inside. Guests were also required to maintain social distancing while sitting in the audience.
Melania Trump Was the Only Member of the Family to Wear a Mask at the Debate
— 🏳️🌈 Resilient Survivor #BidenHarris 💛 🐝 🥁 (@Burkmc) September 30, 2020
Viewers could see that first lady Melania Trump was the only member of the president’s family to follow the rules and wear a mask. The discrepancy sparked a debate on Twitter.
Why is the Trump family allowed to not wear masks in the debate hall while everyone else follows the rules?
— Naomi Biden (@NaomiBiden) September 30, 2020
Melania is wearing a mask, Ivanka isn't. #Debates2020
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) September 30, 2020
Not ONE Fu*king Trumper in the audience is wearing a mask, except Melania!! So disrespectful to the rest of the crowd!!
— Just Sharon, not a Karen. She's my GOP sister #FBR (@sharonj49) September 30, 2020
1/Trump entourage just entered room and immediately removed their masks. They are sitting next to Jill Biden. This is a danger to anyone trying to stop the spread of covid.
— Jill Wine-Banks (@JillWineBanks) September 30, 2020
The Debate Was Moved From Notre Dame to the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University Due to Coronavirus Precautions
The debate on September 29 was originally scheduled to take place at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, but amid the coronavirus pandemic, Notre Dame changed their mind as it “would diminish the educational value of hosting the debate,” as reported by WOSU.
Instead, the first presidential debate was moved to Cleveland, near Cleveland Clinic’s main campus in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion. Organizers said the pavilion was located far enough away from the Case Western Reserve University’s main campus that students would not be affected.
While most topics are divisive, the heads of both political parties in Cuyahoga County expressed that they were happy with the precautions taken prior to the debate.
“I personally am comfortable with the way they have decided to move forward,” said Cuyahoga County Democratic Chair Shontel Brown, WOSU reported. “We are in a pandemic, so I know there have been measures put in place for many things and they can make it safe, but I think for the sake of the safety of others and the safety of the candidates, not having an audience might not be the worst thing in the world.”