COVID-19 And Economy Discussed In First Presidential Debate

The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden covered topics such as COVID-19, the economy, and race and violence in American cities. The 90-minute debate, moderated by Chris Wallace, touched on addiction and depression due to COVID-19, and whether or not lockdowns should be lifted or maintained.

Few have been able to escape the economic impacts caused by COVID-19. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 1 out of 4 American adults have had trouble paying their bills since the start of the pandemic, while a third of them have had to extract from their retirement account or savings to make ends meet. Young adults and lower-income adults are more likely to report personal job loss or job loss in their household, with an overall 25% of American adults saying that someone in their home or themselves were laid off due to COVID-19. Of those who said they were laid off due to COIVD-19, half say they are still currently unemployed.

The first presidential debate discussed the effects of shutting down the economy, the unemployment rate, and both candidates’ outlooks, with President Trump stating that, “We had 10.4 million people in a four-month period that we’ve put back into the workforce. That’s a record the likes of which nobody’s ever seen before. And he wants to close down the… He will shut it down again. He will destroy this country.” Biden returned stating that the country should not be opened up further because of the risk of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and that, “You can’t fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis.”

When discussing COVID-19 and the ramifications of either opening up or shutting down the economy, President Donald Trump mentioned another impact that COVID-19 has had, aside from unemployment issues. When talking about lock downed states, he said, “And you look at what’s going on with divorce, look at what’s going on with alcoholism and drugs. It’s a very, very sad thing.” One survey found that 31% of couples say the quarantine has been damaging to their relationship, and Legal Templates, a company that provides legal documents, stated that they have seen a 34% increase in sales of their divorce agreements compared to the same period in 2019. The stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19 has not only hurt relationships but has caused a spike in mental health and substance use disorders.

COVID-19, Addiction, And Mental Health

Polling has found that 53% of American adults reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over COVID-19, compared to 32% that was reported back in March 2020. There has also been a reported increase in substance abuse and alcohol consumption, as well as difficulties with eating and sleeping. Loneliness and isolation have been linked to negative mental health effects, and job loss is associated with depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem. These mental health effects can be tied to higher rates of substance abuse. Those who have developed or had a worsening substance use disorder during the pandemic may also be hesitant to seek treatment and reach out to others for support because of fear of contracting the virus. However, substance use disorders are often far more deadly than COVID-19, depending on the substance and severity of addiction.

Drug Use Claims

On Sunday the 27th before the debate, President Donald Trump tweeted out: “I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night. Naturally, I will agree to take one also. His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???” Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield responded to the demand stating, “Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it. We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn’t make a plan to stop COVID-19.”

It is unknown exactly which performing enhancing drugs President Trump may believe Biden to have taken. In a recent White House press conference, when asked if he was joking about Biden using performance enhancing drugs, Trump replied, “No, I’m not joking,” and explained how he had observed Biden in a debate seemingly “out of it” and another time where he was okay. Michael T. Swanoski, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy, stated in an interview with Slate that a drug like Adderall could increase attentiveness, however it would not increase cognition.

During the first presidential debate, Joe Biden’s sons Hunter and Beau Biden were brought up when discussing military members. The topic turned to Hunter when President Trump stated that Hunter was, “thrown out of the military” for cocaine use. Biden retorted with, “My son like a lot of people at home had a drug problem. He’s overtaking it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him, I’m proud of my son.” Back in July 2019, Hunter Biden had spoken openly in an interview with The New Yorker about his struggle with alcohol and drug addiction and his relapses, as well as his foreign business dealings.

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Hayley Hudson

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  • Hayley Hudson is the Director of Content at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. from the University of Central Florida, with a focus on writing and rhetoric, media, and communications. Hayley has been a professional writer and editor since 2016.

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