Biden calls for sevenfold increase in testing as he details COVID-19 plan
Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Friday called for a sevenfold increase in the country’s testing, as he laid out further plans for fighting the pandemic in a speech taking aim at President Trump.
Biden is making the worsening pandemic a central theme in the closing days of the election, after hammering Trump on it throughout the campaign. He followed up Thursday night’s debate with a speech on the coronavirus response in Delaware on Friday.
In putting forward some further details of his proposals to fight the virus, Biden called for a dramatic increase in the nation’s testing.
“I’ll put a national testing plan in place with the goal of testing as many people each day as we’re currently testing each week, a sevenfold increase,” Biden said Friday.
“There’s a key difference in this campaign between Donald Trump and me: I believe in testing,” he added. “Donald Trump does not. I believe in science.”
Biden also said if elected, he would call on the new Congress to put a bill with resources to fight the virus on his desk by the end of January, “to see how both our public health and our economic response can be seen through the end.”
The Trump administration is negotiating a coronavirus response package with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) but the talks have been up and down for weeks with no clear path forward. Senate Republicans also favor a much smaller package, making it unclear how any deal would get through the Senate.
On testing, Biden called for a “faster, cheaper screening test, that you can take right at home or in school,” a step many experts have said is key to safely reopening society.
Trump has repeatedly downplayed the need for more testing, saying it makes the country look bad by identifying more cases. His administration set off a firestorm when it issued new guidance in August saying asymptomatic people do not need to be tested, before eventually backtracking somewhat.
Biden calls for mobilizing the federal government to a far greater degree to ramp up manufacturing of testing supplies as well as protective equipment for health workers.
“This isn’t beyond our capacity to master,” Biden said.
“It’s unconscionable that we’re more than 8 months into this crisis and front-line health care workers are still rationing their personal protective equipment,” he added.
He said he would also encourage every governor to implement a mask mandate, and if they refuse, would turn to urging local officials to do so.
As he did at the debate Thursday night, Biden also lit into Trump for his sunnily optimistic message on the virus, saying the country is “rounding the turn,” as cases approach a new record heading into winter.
“He’s given up, he’s quit on you, he’s quit on your family,” Biden said.