By ABC News
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden face off in the second — and final — presidential debate of 2020 Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee.
The planned topics include fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership.
Below, ABC News will fact check what both candidates say throughout the 90-minute debate, moderated by NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker.
Please refresh this page for updates.
Trump misstates Fauci’s past comments on masks
TRUMP’S CLAIM: “Nobody knew where it was coming from, what it was. We’ve learned a lot. But Anthony said don’t wear masks. Now he wants to wear masks.”
FACT CHECK: Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the top infectious disease experts in the country, and other public health experts initially told Americans not to wear surgical or N95 masks in the early days of what has become the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, as well as Fauci and other top experts, initially discouraged wearing masks because of concerns that masks and other personal protective equipment were in short supply for health care workers who needed them. Public health officials were also concerned wearing masks could have unintended consequences if people touched their face more often to adjust them or fail to keep social distancing.
“There was this feeling that there would be a shortage just for those who really need them very early on,” Fauci said in a recent interview. “That was the big deal. We didn’t have enough PPE including masks. Then it became clear that cloth masks worked reasonably well. And therefore there was no more shortage. Then the different analyses, meta analyses and others came in that in fact, it does work.”
In early April, the CDC changed its recommendation about face coverings for the general public, based on evidence that a significant number of people who were asymptomatic or not yet feeling sick were transmitting the virus.
Duke University researchers have also concluded that “if 95 percent of people wear cloth masks when within 6 feet of other people in public, it will reduce COVID-19 transmission by at least 30 percent.”
Trump also said he thought Fauci was a Democrat, but Fauci is not registered as a member of any political party, according to D.C. voting records.
–Stephanie Ebbs and Arielle Mitropoulos
Biden incorrectly attributes mask statistic to Trump advisers
BIDEN’S CLAIM: “The expectation is we’ll have another 200,000 Americans dead in the time between now and the end of the year. If we just wore these masks, the president’s own advisers have told him, we could save 100,000 lives.”
FACT CHECK: The president’s advisers haven’t used this estimate, though the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has strongly recommended wearing them. A modeling study by the University of Washington estimated at one point that if most Americans wore masks, it could save 100,000 lives by the end of the year. That estimate has been repeated by Tom Frieden, who led the CDC under President Barack Obama.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the current head of the CDC under Trump, has not made such a statement.
According to his office, he has said that the pandemic could begin to come under control in eight to 12 weeks “if all people living in America wore a face mask, were smart about social distancing and crowds, and practiced good hand hygiene.”
Trump says Biden called China travel restrictions ‘xenophobic,’ but that’s not clear
TRUMP’S CLAIM: “When I closed, he said, ‘This is a terrible thing. You’re xenophobic.’ I think he called me racist, even, and — because I was closing it to China. Now, he says I should have closed it earlier. It just — Joe, it doesn’t work.”
FACT CHECK: While Trump claimed that Biden opposed his decision to ban most travel from China at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic and that he called the restrictions “xenophobic,” the former vice president did not explicitly weigh in on the decision when it was announced on Jan. 31. He did call the president xenophobic minutes after the partial travel ban was announced, but did not call Trump a racist for the decision.
During a campaign event that same day in Fort Madison, Iowa, Biden discussed the growing concern over the COVID-19 outbreak and cautioned that Trump should let science “lead the way.”
“In moments like this, this is where the credibility of a president is most needed as he explains what we should and should not do,” Biden told the crowd at the event. “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysterical xenophobia … and fear-mongering to lead the way instead of science.”
The comments came just minutes after the White House announcement, so it was unclear if Biden was referring to the decision specifically, but the former vice president did tweet a similar sentiment the next day.
“We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus,” Biden posted. “We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.”
Throughout March, Biden used the word “xenophobic” in various speeches and tweets to criticize the president labeling COVID-19 as the “China virus.”
Biden did acknowledge the travel restrictions put in place by the Trump administration in a March speech, noting they “may” slow the spread.
“Banning all travel from Europe or any other part of the world may slow it, but as we’ve seen, it will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics rather than risk will be counterproductive,” Biden said.
Biden’s campaign did not explicitly discuss the vice president’s view of the ban until April.
“Joe Biden supports travel bans that are guided by medical experts, advocated by public health officials and backed by a full strategy,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told CNN. “Science supported this ban, therefore he did too.
Trump misleads when comparing COVID-19 pandemic to H1N1, Obama administration response
TRUMP’S CLAIM: “Frankly, [Biden] ran the H1N1, swine flu, and it was a total disaster, far less lethal, but it was a total disaster. Had that had this kind of numbers, 700,000 people would be dead right now.”
FACT CHECK: While Trump is correct that the H1N1 virus was much less lethal than COVID-19, it is misleading to call the Obama administration’s response a “failure.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates up to 575,000 lives were lost to the swine flu worldwide. Of those, fewer than 13,000 were American, due in part to the Obama administration’s “complex, multi-faceted and long-term response,” the CDC later wrote. Thus far, COVID-19 has taken the lives of over 210,000 Americans, a little over eight months since the first known case of the virus was discovered in the United States.
“The team, in my opinion, in 2009, really demonstrated that the planning was worth it. Nothing is ever perfect. But I felt just so impressed and so proud of the job CDC did in 2009,” Dr. Julie Gerberding, a CDC director during the George W. Bush administration, told ABC News.
–John VerhovekCopyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.