Biden calls for ‘urgent action’ from Trump amid COVID-19 surge

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President-elect Joe Biden on Friday called for the Trump administration to take immediate action to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, as daily case numbers and hospitalizations hit new highs.

Biden wrote on Twitter that he was “alarmed” by the surging number of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths reported across the country.

“This crisis demands a robust and immediate federal response which has been woefully lacking,” he wrote.

Biden emphasized, however, that he will not enter office until January and “COVID-19 does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now.”

“Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration,” he added.

States have reported an increase in testing recently, though it trails the rate of case growth. The U.S. has averaged more than 136,000 daily cases over the past seven days, while hospitalizations topped 68,500 on Friday and fatalities attributed to COVID-19 hit 1,301, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Biden made his criticism of President Trump’s coronavirus response a centerpiece of his 2020 bid and he weighed in on Friday just hours after Trump held a news conference in the White House Rose Garden to tout the administration’s efforts to secure and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.

The event marked the first public remarks that Trump has delivered since last week, when he declared without evidence that the presidential election was being stolen from him. Trump has not conceded the race as his campaign challenges election results in several states.

At one point during his comments Friday, Trump appeared to come close to acknowledging Biden’s status as president-elect while emphasizing that his own administration would not lock down the U.S. in an effort to curb the virus’ spread.

“This administration will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully the — the, whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be, I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown,” Trump said.

A top health adviser to Biden suggested this week that the country could weather a shutdown of up to six weeks as part of efforts to constrain the coronavirus.

However, two other public health experts advising Biden on the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday rejected the idea of lockdowns like those seen earlier this year, which led to a spike in unemployment and business closures. 

“We’re not in a place where we’re saying, ‘shut the whole country down,’ ” said Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general in the Obama administration who serves as co-chairman of Biden’s COVID-19 task force. 

“We got to be more targeted. If we don’t do that, what you’re going to find is that people will become even more fatigued, schools won’t be open to children and the economy will be hit harder,” he continued. “So we’ve got to follow the science but we’ve got to also be more precise than we were in the spring.” 

Tags coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 Donald Trump Joe Biden Vivek Murthy

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