Biden Calls On Trump to ‘Wake Up’ to Coronavirus Crisis

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday called on President Donald Trump to “wake up,” accusing him of waving a “white flag and retreating” from the fight against the coronavirus even as the pandemic continues to ravage the health and finances of Americans.

“Donald Trump wants to style himself as a wartime president. Unlike any other wartime leader, he takes no responsibility, he exercises no leadership, now he has just flat surrendered the fight,” Biden said during a campaign stop in Darby, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.

Biden Calls On Trump to ‘Wake Up’ to Coronavirus Crisis

Trump, Biden suggested, is more interested in holding campaign rallies, beginning with one on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his first since the pandemic struck. Biden has stuck to small events, such as the ones Wednesday, which included just a dozen invited guests sitting more than six feet apart.

As of Wednesday, the U.S. had 2.1 million cases of coronavirus and more than 117,000 people have died. National health officials are warning about the risk of infections beyond the initial U.S. hot spots, led by New York and New Jersey. In recent weeks, cases have doubled in Arizona and surged in Florida and Texas, which were among the first states to reopen.

Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, has backed Trump’s efforts to move on from the crisis. There is no “second wave” of the virus, Pence wrote in a Tuesday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Pence argued that efforts to slow the virus’ spread have worked and that “thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.”

Biden said the country is still ill-prepared for the health and economic challenges of the pandemic, which he said won’t subside until there is a vaccine, a reality that he said Trump is ignoring.

“Donald Trump thinks if he puts his head in the sand, the American people will too,” Biden said.

“Bad management on top of bad planning on top of neglect is totally unacceptable for a great nation like ours,” he said of Trump’s handling of the crisis. “Just like he couldn’t wish Covid-19 away in March, just like he couldn’t tweet it away in April, he can’t ignore it away in June.”

Biden repeated his call for continued federal support for small businesses and the unemployed, as well as a larger federal role in setting out health guidelines and helping Americans implement them.

Earlier, meeting with small business owners at Carlette’s Hideaway, a bar and soul food restaurant on the edge of commuter rail tracks in Yeadon, Pennsylvania, Biden offered the same message. “One of the problems in my opinion is nobody is taking responsibility,” he said of the president and his administration’s senior officials.

Scott Richardson, the owner of Occasionally Yours Cafe in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, told Biden that he’d voted for Trump in 2016 because of his business background but had been disappointed by his virus response.

“I felt like we did not do any long-range planning. Anything that we’ve done since the beginning of this has been a reactive thing. It seems we’ve been totally reactive,” Richardson said of Trump.

Biden has argued that he would have been more aggressive at every step of the crisis, from beginning to fight the virus weeks if not months earlier than Trump to doing better planning for reopening and to prevent new outbreaks. He released a reopening plan last week that calls for increasing Covid-19 testing, ensuring workers have access to personal protective equipment, guaranteeing paid sick leave and launching a national contact-tracing task force.

Biden has urged the federal government to spend a significant amount of money to assist businesses in reopening with safety precautions in place. He’s also said the government should fund child care costs, medical research and increased salaries for health care workers. The former vice president warned that without the investment, the economy would not recover.

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