WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has urged states to shun lockdowns as his Democratic rival Joe Biden said the pandemic could not be stopped by “flipping a switch”, reports BBC.
Continuing a whirlwind schedule of rallies in battleground states, Trump also mocked mask mandates.Biden said Trump’s handling of America’s worsening coronavirus crisis was an “insult” to its victims.
The Democrat has a solid national lead over the Republican president six days before the 3 November election.
But Biden’s advantage is narrower in the handful of US states that could vote either way and ultimately decide who wins the White House.
More than 75 million Americans have voted early, nearly 50 million of them by post, in a record-breaking voting surge driven by the pandemic.
Virus deaths are rising in 39 US states and an average of about 800 people are dying daily nationwide. White House coronavirus task force expert Dr Anthony Fauci told the BBC on Wednesday that Trump’s political rallies were bound to spread Covid-19. He said gatherings of people not wearing masks or socially distancing were potentially superspreading events.
Infection rates are also rising sharply across Europe, including in the UK, France and Germany.Global stock markets plunged on Wednesday amid fears that the pandemic could reverse tepid economic recoveries.
The two presidential rivals’ divisions over the coronavirus were on stark display once again on Wednesday.
Speaking from his home of Wilmington, Delaware, Democrat Joe Biden said he would not campaign “on the false promises of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch”.
Biden - who has not ruled out further lockdowns - pledged instead to “let science drive our decisions”. “Even if I win, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic,” he said. “I do promise this: We will start on day one doing the right things.”
He also railed against Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in the midst of a pandemic.
The Democrat and his wife Jill Biden cast their early ballots soon afterwards. Trump voted early on Saturday in Florida.
At a rally in Goodyear, Arizona, Trump warned that a Biden presidency would lead to more lockdowns and economic misery for Americans.
“If you vote for Joe Biden it means no kids in school, no graduations, no weddings, no thanksgivings, no Christmas, and no Fourth of July together.
“Other than that you’ll have a wonderful life. Can’t see anybody, but that’s alright.”
He cast the election as “a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression”. At an earlier rally in Bullhead City, also in Arizona, a state where looser rules on social distancing make staging crowded events easier, Trump poked fun at mask mandates in Democratic-run states.
An F-16 fighter jet was scrambled during the rally to ward off an aircraft that entered the air space without authorisation. The warplane fired flares to get the pilot’s attention and the smaller aircraft was escorted out of the area without further incident, according to the North American Aerospace Command.