Biden attacks Trump's handling of COVID-19 as U.S. cases rise

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday launched a fresh attack on President Donald Trump's "historic mismanagement" of the coronavirus pandemic as the number of confirmed cases in many states rises.

Speaking in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, the former vice president argued that earlier action by Trump would have reduced the number who fell ill and the economic impact of the virus.

"The American people don't make enormous sacrifices over the past four months so ... you can waste all their efforts they have undertaken with your midnight rantings and tweets," said Biden, who delivered the speech to reporters in a high school gymnasium.

Biden released an updated plan to tackle the pandemic, which would include more COVID-19 testing and hiring at least 100,000 contract tracers.

He predicted that the coronavirus outbreak would likely worsen with the onset of the flu season, and said preparations should include more flu vaccines.

Biden said that, if elected, he would ask the federal government's top disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to serve another term.

Trump and his allies say the toll of the virus - which has killed more than 126,000 Americans, according to a Reuters tally - could have been larger without travel bans he put in place for visitors from China, and later from Europe.

They have argued the increasing confirmed cases in recent weeks are largely attributable to more testing, although the rate of positive tests has also been rising.

Trump campaign spokeswoman Courtney Parella said Biden was "fearmongering and rooting against America’s success" while Trump led a public and private-sector mobilization that had slowed the spread of the virus.

The Republican president is trailing Biden in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election amid the pandemic's health and economic crises, and nationwide protests against police brutality.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Wilmington and Simon Lewis in Washington; editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)

06/30/2020 18:14

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