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Why Pelosi's Claims About Republicans Being Anti-Science on Face Masks Are False

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

This week House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) slammed President Trump’s acceptance speech before the 2020 Republican National Convention for not having the audience engage in social distancing. Pelosi told MSNBC: “what further evidence does anyone need that this president doesn’t care less about the spread of this virus than to see what he did, vandalizing, by the way, the White House by bringing all those people there, no mask, no distancing, and the rest? He slapped science right in the face, and what a bad example that was.”


Of course, there is a certain irony with Nancy being caught this week visiting a shuttered San Francisco hair salon without a face mask. Local regulations ordered the salon closed, but apparently those rules don’t apply for Pelosi.

Yet, the event actually shows that Trump does care about preventing the spread of the coronavirus. There was nothing anti-science about the event.

Possibly Pelosi and her staff just don’t read The New York Times or other media such as The Hill, an inside the beltway publication that is read extensively by members of Congress and their staff. Possibly she didn’t realize that both party conventions were following the same rules. Five days before Trump gave his acceptance speech, the Times noted:

“But despite the pandemic upending carefully laid convention plans for both parties, there is, against all odds, still a convention in town. It is modest, and contained to a Covid-tested bubble inside the Westin hotel and the Charlotte Convention Center down the street.” 

While I didn’t attend the Republican Convention, friends of mine did, and they told me about how they got tested before they were allowed to attend Trump's acceptance speech. And this is standard practice even on the campaign trail. When Vice President Mike Pence visited Duluth, Minnesota last Friday, the day after the convention, Minnesota Republican US Senate candidate Jason Lewis told me that they tested him before letting him near Vice President Mike Pence.


You would think that testing people for the virus qualifies as relying on science. People wear masks primarily as a courtesy to not infect others, but if you tested daily, there is no real scientific reason for you to wear a mask. True, the tests can produce “false negatives,” but that occurs for people who have just been exposed and are not yet exhibiting symptoms, and those people are the ones who are spreading the infection to others. 

According to the CDC, “Based on current evidence, scientists believe that persons with mild to moderate COVID-19 may shed replication-competent SARS-CoV-2 for up to 10 days following symptom onset.” On average, symptoms show up about five days after exposure, rarely as soon as two days after exposure.

These attacks on Trump follows a long string of similar criticisms by Democrats and the media over Trump not wearing a mask, but again they are the ones who ignore media reports and basic science. Since early May, Trump and those around him get tested at least once a day. Before that, they were tested once a week. If Trump and those around him receive tests daily, there is little reason for masks.

So, where are the fact-checkers? For a media that won’t even call Joe Biden on his lies about Trump making racist comments after Charlottesville, it is obviously too much for them to actually step on the Democrats' mantra that Trump is anti-science, particularly when it would show that they are the ones pushing false information.


Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of “Gun Control Myths: How politicians, the media, and botched ‘studies’ have twisted the facts on gun control.”

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