Age in the time of Coronavirus

As the coronavirus tightens its grip, Americans are being asked to “shelter in place” and work from home. Restaurants, pubs, wine bars, karaoke palaces, coffee shop poetry nights, speed dating, and “Dungeons and Dragons” conventions are struggling to stay financially afloat as citizens avoid unnecessary social exposure. But in the midst of the panic shopping and binge TV, the race for the White House barrels ahead.

Sunday night, CNN hosted former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for a televised debate. No live audience. Just three hosts and the two candidates facing off in a studio lit like a patriotic disco.

The two, white haired septuagenarians were immediately challenged to defend their fitness to serve given their membership in the coronavirus’ highest risk group: the elderly. Biden, who has come under increasing scrutiny for his seeming mental lapses, like his claim last fall that he attended an all black college, was adamant that despite his 77 years, his health matches that of any person decades younger. Biden suffered two serious brain aneurisms in 1988 requiring two brain surgeries. As he has described it, “They take a saw and they cut your head off. They literally had to take the top of my head off.”

Meanwhile, 78-year-old Sanders suffered a heart attack on the campaign trail last October requiring two stents. The irascible Democratic Socialist reminded the moderators, however, that his views haven’t budged an inch in his entire adulthood.

Whichever of the two candidates wins the Democratic nomination, they will face a 74-year-old President Donald Trump who, characteristically, rates his own health as “perfect.”

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