On June 1, protests and social unrest rock the country’s core, as almost every major city in the U.S. erupts with protests over three recent police killings of unarmed African Americans. The country pivots to debates over systemic racism and police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The White House responds with authoritarianism tactics (: https://www.vox.com/2020/6/3/21279391/george-floyd-protests-military-donald-trump-mattis) that raise military ethics questions and his former Defense Secretary denounces him as a threat to the U.S. Constitution (See: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/james-mattis-denounces-trump-protests-militarization/612640/.
The entire medical field, including bioethics discuss systemic racism as an underlying problem in medical training and academic medicine in general. For example, during the a virtual version of ENDO 2020 in June, an anti-racism vigil is held (See: https://endocrinenews.endocrine.org/endocrine-society-holds-anti-racism-vigil-during-endo-online-2020/ )
In the field of Bioethics, the Association of Bioethics Program Directors published a Statement on Violence, COVID, and Structural Racism in American Society: https://www.bioethicsdirectors.net/abpd-statement-on-violence-covid-and-structural-racism-in-american-society/
As Americans of all backgrounds come together to acknowledge the damage of systemic racism in all aspects of American life, the holiday, Juneteenth approaches, (https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm), which is the day African Americans celebrate freedom. June is also the memorial month of the Tulsa Massacre (https://www.tulsahistory.org/exhibit/1921-tulsa-race-massacre/). In a questionable move, the Trump re-election campaign schedules the first rally for President Trump since early March to take place June 19 (or, Juneteenth) in Tulsa, Oklahoma while it was experiencing a marked increase in coronavirus cases and Covid-19 hospitalizations. The planned event was designed as an indoor rally in a venue that would seat roughly 19,000 people, in stark defiance of CDC guidance and public health experts’ warnings. Additionally, attendees would not be required to wear masks. Instead, they were required to sign a waiver that they wouldn’t sue the Trump Campaign if they got sick with Covid-19 from their attendance. The waiver stated the following: “By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc…or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury” (see: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-rally-waiver-tulsa-ok-coronavirus-wont-sue-covid-19/). This waiver did not constitute “informed consent” nor do legal experts consider it enforceable (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-waiver/trump-campaigns-waiver-wont-block-coronavirus-lawsuits-experts-idUSKBN23J2Z5). Although the prospect of a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth was racially insensitive, the prospect of a super-spreader event that met the criteria of a biohazard was ethically egregious from a public health standpoint. Tulsa businesses and residents even sought a court order to restrict the rally, but it was struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. (See: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/oklahoma-supreme-court-denies-legal-challenge-trump-rally-n1231564)
Ultimately, the rally was moved to June 20th, and only about 6000 people attended, but were mostly not social distancing or wearing masks. On June 23, another Trump rally was held in Arizona, as the state was going through a surge that was overwhelming hospitals. Another 3,000 people packed into a megachurch without masks, alarming public health experts.
As we near July, several states that had never properly closed down in March, and insisted on reopening early, are now experiencing the New York surges of April. The White House Task Force scheduled the first briefing in two months to discuss the surges, and when asked whether Trump campaign super-spreader events were wise, Vice President Pence said the event was the campaign’s “constitutional right”. As of today, the United States has over 2.5 million coronavirus cases, and over 126,000 Americans have died in four months.