The timing of the pandemic with one of the most contentious elections in U.S. history all but ensured that the virus would become a major campaign issue, as Zika did in 2016 and Ebola in 2014. Campaign platforms rely on easily communicated strategies, such as advancing vaccine research, novel tests, and new treatment approaches, but these interventions will not be enough to contain the virus. There continues to be a much higher COVID-19 burden among economically marginalized communities, driven in part by dense living conditions and higher-exposure occupations. Tackling these problems to prevent infections and disparities will require strategies that go beyond vaccines, testing and treatment, including universal health care, paid sick leave and housing support. While critical for the COVID-19 response, these complex policies are more difficult to integrate into viable campaign platforms.