Don Lemon Says Donald Trump 'Partly to Blame' for Catching COVID-19 on CNN

CNN anchor Don Lemon has said President Donald Trump is partly to blame for his COVID-19 diagnosis. Lemon cited the president's campaign rallies and his attitude toward masks as possible factors.

News broke overnight that Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had the virus and would be quarantining at the White House. This follows the first presidential debate on Tuesday and a Trump rally in Minnesota on Wednesday.

Lemon spoke to a CNN panel about the president's diagnosis and thousands of other Americans also receiving the news that they have COVID-19 as cases have passed 7 million.

The quote

"In large part, it's his own dereliction [that] is partly to blame to this," Lemon told veteran journalist Carl Bernstein.

"He chose to go out to rallies. He chose to down play masks. He chose to not social distance and called it a hoax and so on and so forth. But, you know, again, it's horrible that the president has this."

"But he chose to handle the situation this way. People in the West Wing and the administration saying it' frowned upon to wear a mask. Was this inevitable?"

Bernstein said the president's "recklessness" had contributed to the situation and his diagnosis represented a national security crisis.

Why it matters

Trump has continued to hold rallies with limited social distancing and mask-wearing. He has downplayed the seriousness of the disease since the beginning of the pandemic.

At the first presidential debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Trump mocked the Democratic candidate for wearing a mask. Trump has previously been pictured wearing a mask.

"I don't wear masks like him," he said. "Every time you see him, he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen."

The president's supporters at campaign rallies have also largely avoided wearing masks and social distancing, according to multiple reports, while Trump told a crowd on September 22 that COVID-19 "affects hardly anyone."

"Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19," Trump tweeted on Thursday. "We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!"

Context

The presidential election is just 32 days away and Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis may make it difficult for him to continue campaigning. There may also be questions around governing the country if he becomes more seriously ill.

Questions remain about whether Vice President Mike Pence has been exposed to the virus and what would happen if both he and the president were incapacitated as a result. He and Trump were pictured together on Monday.

President and First Lady at the Debate
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on stage after the first presidential debate between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, in Cleveland, Ohio. Win McNamee/Getty Images