U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks about his plan to beat COVID-19 in Wilmington, Delaware, October 23, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday laid out exactly how a Biden administration would address the coronavirus crisis, one day after the United States recorded nearly a record daily high in new coronavirus cases.
Biden said if he were elected, he would begin carrying out his plan even before he is inaugurated.
“I’ll reach out to every governor in every state, red and blue, as well as mayors and local officials, during the transition, to find out what support they need and how much of it they need,” Biden said during a speech at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware.
“I’ll ask the new Congress to put a bill on my desk by the end of January with all the resources necessary, so that both our public health response and our economic response can be seen through to the end.”
Here’s how Biden described each step of his plan.
- Masking: Biden said he would go to every governor and ask them to impose a mask mandate. If governors refused, as they have in several states, Biden said he would turn to local officials. He also said he will mandate masks in all federal buildings and on all interstate transportation.
- Testing: The former vice president said he would launch a national testing plan aimed at conducting as many tests each day as the U.S. currently performs each week, which would amount to approximately 7 million tests a day. Biden would also build lab capacity, hire a national corps of contact tracers, and ensure that tests are free and accessible regardless of immigration status.
- Personal protective equipment: Biden intends to use “the full power of the Defense Production Act” to drive the domestic manufacturing of masks, gloves, gowns and other equipment, including ample N95 masks for health-care workers. Biden also said he would appoint “a fully empowered supply commander in charge of filling in the gaps.”
- Uniform, scientific reopening guidelines: A Biden administration, he said, will “provide consistent, reliable, trusted, detailed nationwide guidance and technical support for reopening safely and the resources to make it happen.” Biden also said the government would provide consultations and technical advice “so people have a place to turn with their questions.”
- Treatments and vaccines: Biden’s plan would put an emphasis on equitable and widespread delivery of therapeutics in the near term and eventually a free coronavirus vaccine, he said. But Biden acknowledged that even if a vaccine is found to be effective, “It will still be many months before any vaccine is widely available.”
The speech showcased the sharp divide between President Donald Trump’s approach to combating the virus, which relies heavily on shifting authority and responsibility for pandemic response onto states, and Biden’s more centralized plan.
A Trump campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Biden’s speech.
With just 11 days to go before Election Day, the speech both crystallized Biden’s closing argument and encapsulated his overarching campaign promise: Namely, a return to responsible, reliable and steady leadership.
“Imagine a day in the not too distant future, when you can enjoy dinner with your friends and family, and maybe even go out to a movie,” said Biden, painting a picture of everyday American life that used to sound mundane, but now seems out of reach for many.
Trump, meanwhile, has continued to downplay the severity of the global pandemic, which has so far cost the lives of more than 220,000 Americans, the worst outcome among any of the developed nations.
During the final presidential debate Thursday in Nashville, Trump insisted that the country is “rounding the corner,” and the virus is “going away,” despite the fact that cases are surging in most states. “I say we’re learning to live with it,” he added.
Biden shot back: “People are learning to die with it.”