Joe Biden warned at Thursday night’s presidential debate that the U.S. was “about to go into a dark winter,” echoing the concerns of public health experts who caution about increased daily Covid-19 case counts converging with the annual flu season.
“We’re about to go into a dark winter. A dark winter,” Biden said. “And he has no clear plan, and there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”
Biden’s remarks came after President Donald Trump offered a rosy, unrealistic timeline for vaccine distribution. Responding to the Democratic nominee, the president said: “I don’t know if we’re going to have a dark winter at all. We’re opening up our country. We’ve learned and studied and understand the disease, which we didn’t at the beginning.”
Video: With election nearing, Trump takes aim at Fauci (Reuters – US Video Online)
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, previously predicted in July that “the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we’ve experienced in American public health.”
But Trump insisted Thursday that Americans were “learning to live with” the pandemic. “We have no choice. We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does,” he said.
When it was Biden’s turn to weigh in, the former vice president retorted: “People are learning to die with it.” The two candidates then sparred over Trump’s travel restrictions on China, and whether Biden considered the measure xenophobic.
“My response is he is xenophobic,” Biden said of Trump, “but not because he shut down access from China.”
President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden disagreed sharply during Thursday’s final presidential debate of 2020 about how the coronavirus pandemic would play out in the United States over the winter.
Trump was asked about his assertion that America was “rounding the turn” on the pandemic and that a vaccine for COVID-19 would be ready in a matter of weeks, in the face of less optimistic estimates from members of his own administration and the companies currently working to produce one.
“I think my timeline is going to be more accurate,” Trump said at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. “I don’t know that they’re counting on the military the way I do, but we have our generals lined up, one in particular, that’s the head of logistics and this is a very easy distribution. He’s ready to go, as soon as we have the vaccine and we expect to have a hundred million vials of the vaccine, he’s ready to go.”
Biden responded by questioning the president’s credibility on the issue. “This is the same fellow who told you this is going to end by Easter last time. This is the same fellow who told you that, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to end this this summer,’” Trump said. “We’re about to enter a dark winter, a dark winter, and he has no clear plan and he has no prospects that there’s going to be a vaccine for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”
Trump, however, saw a much rosier situation.
“I don’t think we’re going to have a dark winter, at all. We’re opening up our country. We’ve learned and studied and understand the disease, which we didn’t at the beginning,” Trump said.
Trump has often assured the country that the pandemic is “going to go away by itself,” with or without a vaccine. The number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths have been rising in recent weeks, as Biden pointed out.
“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America. We’re in a situation where there are a thousand deaths a day and there are over 70,000 new cases per day,” Biden said, adding, “The expectation is that we’ll have another 200,000 dead by the end of the year. Come on.”
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