Donald Trump railed against news that some institutions are reinstating mask mandates due to the rise in new coronavirus variants, linking the alleged “fearmongering” to his personal claims that the 2024 election will be subject to fraud.
In a video address on X, formerly Twitter, posted on Wednesday, the Republican primary frontrunner pledged that, if re-elected, he would “use every available authority to cut federal funding to any school, college, airline or public transportation system that imposes a mask mandate or a vaccine mandate.”
Several private institutions, hospital operators and colleges have reintroduced the requirements for staff or visitors to wear masks while at their sites to limit the spread of the new coronavirus variants—EG.5 and BA.2.86—which have recently emerged.
Though the World Health Organization has categorized the former as of low risk to public health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assessed the latter to be more likely to infect people who have existing immunity to the virus, either through vaccination or prior infections.
As of August 19, there were over 15,000 hospitalizations recorded in the United States due to COVID-19 infections, the latest CDC monitoring figures show, a rise of nearly 19 percent from the previous week. Admissions have been steadily rising since July, but are far below the highest peaks of the pandemic and appear to be localized into hotspots.
“The left-wing lunatics are trying very hard to bring back COVID lockdowns and mandates with all of their sudden fearmongering about the new variants that are coming,” Trump said in his video message, which has so far been viewed 2.4 million times. “Gee whiz, you know what else is coming? An election.
“They want to restart the COVID hysteria so they can justify more lockdowns, more censorship, more illegal drop boxes, more mail-in ballots and trillions of dollars in payoffs to their political allies heading into the 2024 election—does that sound familiar?”
COVID Tyrants want to take away our Freedom.
Hear my words— WE WILL NOT COMPLY. pic.twitter.com/Kql1YaxuO0
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) August 30, 2023
The former president added: “To every COVID tyrant who wants to take away our freedom, hear these words: we will not comply, so don’t even think about it. We will not shut down our schools; we will not accept your lockdowns; we will not abide by your mask mandates; and we will not tolerate your vaccine mandates.
“They rigged the 2020 election and now they’re trying to do the same thing all over again by rigging the most important election in the history of our country.”
Trump and his allies have continuously made claims that the 2020 election was fixed against him, despite no evidence being found to corroborate his allegations. A cornerstone of his rhetoric as he campaigns for the Republican nomination has been contrasting support for his candidacy with fears of election fraud in 2024.
The former president is now facing two separate criminal cases regarding allegations that he was part of a conspiracy to unlawfully overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump has denied any wrongdoing in all the cases against him and has repeatedly claimed they were an attempt to stop him from running for a second term.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks were widely employed as a means of limiting the spread of the virus—though both mask mandates and vaccine requirements drew protests in some places.
There are differing opinions among the scientific community as to the efficacy of face masks in preventing COVID-19 infections, though many agree that when used in tandem with other prohibitive measures—such as washing hands, social distancing and vaccination—they help stop the virus spreading.