Biden slams Trump over latest coronavirus failures in scathing speech


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Joe Biden renewed his demands for the White House to adopt a comprehensive, nationwide plan to combat surging rates of coronavirus cases and hospitalisation, as states have failed to curb infections months after the onset of the outbreak.

The presumptive Democratic nominee to face Donald Trump had urged the president to adopt a plan to combat the outbreak in March. Months later, as the nation sees more than 2.6 million infections and more than 126,000 deaths, Mr Biden asked Mr Trump – who has referred to himself as a « wartime president » against the « invisible enemy » of coronavirus – « what happened? »

« It’s almost July, and it seems like our wartime president has surrendered, waved the white flag and left the battlefield, » he said. « Here we are three months later and we’re hardly more prepared than we were in March. »

The former vice president condemned the « state-by-state approach » that left a patchwork response to the Covid-19 crisis while nearly every state grapples with rising cases weeks after emerging from brief quarantines.

« Statewide lockdowns were meant to buy us time to get our act together, » Mr Biden said. « Instead of using that time to prepare ourselves, Donald Trump squandered it. »

Mr Biden and his campaign opponent Bernie Sanders each offered up plans to address the looming crisis back in March within weeks of a declaration of a pandemic before the nation’s first 1,000 deaths. From a podium in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday, Mr Biden – in rare news conference largely speaking directly to the president – warned that the « crisis is real, and it’s surging ».

If elected, he would provide Dr Anthony Fauci — the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and key member of the White House coronavirus task force — an « uncensored platform » to speak on the crisis after activating a response plan on his first day in office.

« We need clear evidence-based steps that states can adopt now, » he said. « This is not rocket science. »

Mr Biden demanded a nationwide testing programme with « rigorous » contact tracing, including the hiring of 100,000 federally funded workers, and at least double the number of drive-through testing sites.

He urged the president to activate the Defence Production Act to scale production of N95 masks and other personal protective equipment to « fix the shortage » facing essential workers « before you tee off another round of golf ».

Mr Biden also called for transparency among White House officials over progress on vaccine and drug treatment development, condemning the president’s push for « dangerous and unproven drugs » in the wake of controversies over hydroxychloroquine. The president claimed he took a daily regimen of the antimalaria drug, while health officials warned it wasn’t proven as preventative medication. The National Institutes of Health recently stopped two clinical trials to test the efficacy of the drug.

He also urged federal guidance to mandate that « everyone needs to wear a mask in public, period. »

« Wear a mask, » he said. « It’s not just about you… It’s a simple measure, and it’s also one of the most effective ways we can do the right thing. It may be inconvenient, it may be uncomfortable, but it’s the right thing to do as an American. »

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World news – Biden slams Trump over latest coronavirus failures in scathing speech

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