As states report exploding numbers of coronavirus cases, Joe Biden on Tuesday plans to escalate his criticism of President Trump’s handling of the pandemic and detail how he would stem the virus, which has killed at least 124,000 Americans.
Biden will tie together a raft of proposals he’s offered since January, including providing free testing and treatment for the disease and guaranteed paid leave for those who must stay home from work while sick, according to a campaign document outlining his themes that was obtained by The Washington Post.
The document, in the form of a scorecard that the campaign will push via social media, is intended to hammer home the areas where Biden’s campaign believes that Trump has fallen short. Broad categories include the president’s failure to “level with the American people”; his inability to provide testing and treatment; shortfalls in securing a supply chain for protective equipment; and failures to protect workers, older Americans and small businesses.
Biden is highlighting his approach as infections are surging around the country, including in states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, which Trump won in 2016 but where Biden hopes to be competitive in November. Though the presumptive Democratic nominee is not expected to unveil new ideas, his speech will pull together various proposals under a single framework, intending to demonstrate a meaty response to the question of how he would respond to this crisis.
In contrast, Trump has recently tried to push the nation’s focus away from the virus and instead talk about stimulating the economic recovery. He has refused to wear a mask in public and has held two large rallies — both circumstances that run counter to the advice of health officials, including those in his administration.
The president also has offered unproven and at times dangerous ideas on how to address the coronavirus, including promoting a drug now believed to be ineffective and suggesting that the virus could be treated via “an injection inside” the body with a disinfectant.
Trump also said at a rally that he had instructed officials to “slow the testing down” as a way to keep the country’s official data on infections lower. In March the president said, “I don’t take responsibility at all” for lagging coronavirus testing in the United States.
Biden last week hit Trump for his administration’s decision to ask the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act, saying the action risked the lives of Americans who rely on the insurance.
Biden’s plan to be reiterated in his Wilmington, Del., speech emphasizes controlling the outbreak as a way of giving Americans confidence to go back to work.
He has offered an aggressive plan for testing Americans and caring for the sick, including a pledge that under his administration every person in the country would receive free testing and treatment for the virus, and that the federal government would “guarantee regular, reliable, free access to testing for every worker called back on the job.”
He has proposed a national board for coronavirus testing that would oversee a “surge” in the production of testing kits and ensure adequate lab capacity to process the results.
Those with covid-19 — or caring for loved ones with the disease — would receive guaranteed emergency paid leave allowing them to take time off from work with minimal financial impact. All essential workers would receive child-care assistance and an unspecified pay boost, Biden has said.
Biden will make the point that “Trump has called himself a wartime president but is surrendering to the virus,” according to a campaign official who provided a brief preview of the candidate’s remarks on the condition of anonymity. The official said Biden will stress that lives would have been saved if Trump had acted sooner.
In promising to restart the economy safely, the former vice president has vowed to hire “at least” 100,000 workers to build a national surveillance system to identify virus hot spots. Biden would invoke the Defense Production Act to require manufacturers to churn out protective equipment domestically. He also would appoint a “commander” to oversee the country’s supply chains, a step meant to eliminate the competition among states that marked the early months of the pandemic.
Biden also wants to provide assistance to older Americans and increase monthly Social Security checks by $200. He has not outlined how these programs would be funded.