President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are off to a fast start on the debate stage at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. In the final presidential debate of 2020, they are covering topics from fighting Covid-19 and race in America to climate change and national security.
Thursday's debate is being moderated by NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, who co-anchored a Democratic debate in 2019 with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell.
Check back through the night for live updates to the fact-checks. For complete coverage and analysis, visit the live blog.
Is the coronavirus is 'going away'?
"It will go away and as I say, we are rounding the turn, we are rounding the corner, it's going away," Trump said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic that's killed more than 224,000 Americans.
There’s no evidence of this. The U.S. has an uncontrolled outbreak, reporting more than 69,000 new Covid-19 cases today. Cases are climbing in most states, and the U.S. has more cases than any country, with more than 8.3 million, and more deaths than any country, recently surpassing 220,000.
Is Trump 'immune' after Covid-19 infection?
Trump has said this before, and it requires more context.
"Now they say I am immune. Whether it's for a month or lifetime, nobody has been able to say that but I'm immune," Trump said Thursday.
There is some evidence that coronavirus infection may confer immunity that lasts for a few months after a person has recovered from a Covid-19 infection, though research is ongoing.
Some infections result in lifelong immunity (think chicken pox) while other infections will produce short-term immunity in recovered patients. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he believes the coronavirus confers at least some short-term immunity.
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Was Biden's managing of the swine flu epidemic a 'disaster'?
Trump has frequently called the Obama-Biden administration's handling of the swine flu a "disaster"
"Frankly, he ran the H1N1, swine flu, and it was a total disaster. It was less lethal, but it was a total disaster. Had that had this kind of numbers, 700,000 people would be dead right now. But it was a far less lethal disease," Trump said Thursday.
This is not true and requires additional context. Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff, has credited luck — and not the Obama administration response — with the fact that the swine flu did not kill more people. (Klain did not head up the response to the H1N1 virus, he was working for Biden at the time. He was, however, the administration’s Ebola czar.)
“We did every possible thing wrong — 60 million Americans got H1N1,” he said at a biosecurity summit in May 2019. “It is purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history. It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck.”
The swine flu is estimated to have killed 12,000 in the U.S., far fewer than the more than 200,000 who have died of Covid-19 to date.
Klain later told Politico his comments referred to the administration’s difficulties producing enough of the vaccine they developed, and argued the Obama team quickly adapted to the pandemic — quickly responding and distributing supplies from the federal stockpile, for example — and made very different choices than the Trump administration.
It’s also worth noting that the Obama administration received generally high marks for its response to the swine flu. While government reports after the fact identified room for growth they also highlighted successes, like rapid research and development of a vaccine that arrived in less than six months. There’s little contemporaneous reporting on the Obama administration response that portrays the kind of unmitigated disaster Trump is suggesting occurred.
Were 2.2 million people were projected to die from Covid-19?
Trump, defending his administration's pandemic response, claimed Thursday that "2.2 million people — modeled out — were expected to die" from the coronavirus.
Trump has made this claim previously — that original projections for coronavirus deaths in America said the country would lose 2.2 million people to the virus.
This is misleading. Trump is referring to a model , which did predict that 2.2 million people in America could die from the virus, but only if no mitigation efforts whatsoever were in place.
In late March, White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told NBC's "Today" that the projection of 1.6 million to 2.2 million deaths referred to what could happen if America did "nothing" to stop the spread of the virus.
"If we do things together, well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities," Birx said at the time.
As of Thursday evening, there have been 223,262 deaths attributed to the virus in America, according to NBC News data.