KEY POINTS

  • Democrats on the presidential campaign trail are heeding CDC advice to avoid holding campaign rallies
  • They're now also refraining from shaking hands
  • In contrast, president Donald Trump continues to shake hands with supporters at campaign rallies

During these dangerous days of COVID-19, president Donald Trump is leading by example -- the very wrong example.

Dismissing strident and relentless pleas from the U.S. Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Americans to refrain from shaking hands and attending crowded events, Trump has kept on shaking hands with as many GOP voters as he can at campaign rally after campaign rally in state after state as he seeks reelection.

Never mind COVID-19 is a highly-infectious disease that spreads best among crowds of people, such as those at Trump's campaign rallies. Trump's vice president Mike Pence, who also says he won't stop shaking hands, says he and Trump will continue to do so because that's what politicians do.

In contrast, Democrats are heeding the CDC's call to do the smart thing in these dangerous days of COVID-19. Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden on Tuesday both canceled campaign rallies. They each pointed to concerns about potentially exposing people to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“Out of concern for public health and safety, we are canceling tonight’s rally in Cleveland,” said Sanders’s campaign in a statement. “We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials, who have communicated concern about holding large, indoor events during the coronavirus outbreak.”

Also heeding warnings from health officials is the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which said it will hold its upcoming debate between Biden and Sanders in Arizona without a live audience. The debate is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday and will be hosted by CNN and Univision.

CNN said it won't provide the traditional media filing center for reporters or "spin room," where campaign surrogates and the media congregate to avoid crowding people into one space. DNC said its "number one priority has and will continue to be the safety of our staff campaigns, Arizonans, and all those involved in the debate."

DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa said the decision was made at the request of both campaigns and out of an abundance of caution.

"The DNC has been in regular communication with local health officials and the (Phoenix mayor's) office, which advised that we could proceed as planned," said Hinojosa.

In light of the COVID-19's fast-paced spread on the mainland -- it's now in 36 states and has sickened 40% more people on Wednesday compared to Tuesday -- these decisions by the Dems are prudent steps that will avoid increasing the toll being inflicted by this coronavirus.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are frontrunners in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are frontrunners in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination Photo: AFP / Mark Felix