Joe Biden on Thursday released a plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic as the Democratic presidential front-runner seeks to draw a sharp distinction with President Donald Trump whom he argues “left us woefully unprepared” to deal with the widening outbreak.
Standing before a row of American flags, the former vice president addressed only a roomful of reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, designed to look like a presidential address to the nation. He used the 20-minute speech to explain how a Biden administration would tackle the coronavirus outbreak that has spread to at least 44 states and Washington, D.C. Biden said that Trump’s response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, “laid bare the severe shortcomings of the administration” and showed his “adversarial relationships with the truth.”
“We will lead by science. … Downplaying [the coronavirus] and being overly dismissive or spreading misinformation is only going to hurt us and further advantage the spread of the disease,” Biden said.
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Biden’s proposal to deal with the coronavirus would expand the availability of free testing, focus on the development of a vaccine, provide emergency paid sick leave and “gives all necessary help to workers, families, and small businesses that are hit hard by this crisis.”
The former vice president also took swipes at the president’s call to suspend most travel from Europe, which Trump announced during a Wednesday night address to the nation. And when it comes to immediate economic relief for families and small businesses, Biden argued that Trump’s proposal to cut payroll taxes “won’t get the job done.”
“We’ll never solve this problem if we don’t look beyond our borders,” Biden said. “We have to confront the coronavirus everywhere, leading a coordinated global response just like we did to the Ebola crisis.”
Congress’ legislative schedule so far remains unchanged, especially as Democrats, Republicans and the White House continue negotiations for a multibillion-dollar emergency relief package to help those affected by the coronavirus.
Trump’s campaign responded to the speech as Biden delivered his remarks. The president’s team accused Biden of showing “terrible judgment” during past outbreaks, specifically pointing to the Obama administration’s response to the 2009 swing flu outbreak.
“In times like this, America needs leadership and Biden has shown none,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a Thursday statement. President Trump’s “every move has been aimed at keeping Americans safe, while Joe Biden has sought to capitalize politically and stoke citizens’ fears.”