- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 22, 2020

President Trump said Thursday the coronavirus “will soon be gone” but the nation can persevere through a potential next wave of the coronavirus, citing a forthcoming vaccine and declining case-fatality rate.

“We’re rounding the turn,” he said at the debate in Nashville, Tennessee. “It’s going away.

“If you notice, the mortality rate is down,” Mr. Trump said, adding he saved lives by imposing early travel restrictions.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden said the president is engaged in happy talk as the nation sees its daily case count rise to about 60,000, a high baseline as the country enters cooler months when respiratory diseases tend to proliferate.

“We’re about to go into a dark winter, and he has no clear plan,” said Mr. Biden, the Democratic nominee.

Mr. Biden said the president needs to form a “comprehensive plan” to deal with the pathogen nationwide, including rapid testing and widespread mask use.

Mr. Trump said his opponent is too eager to shut down economies, overreacting to the virus’s impact on the population at large, including young people — and creating more problems in the process. He said Democratic governors in Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York have done a poor job of protecting their economies while battling the virus.

“We’re not going to have a country, you can’t do this, we can’t keep this country closed,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Biden said it’s a good thing to reopen but businesses and institutions need resources, such plexiglass dividers and testing, to do it safely. He also chafed at Mr. Trump’s criticism of blue-state leadership, saying “all Americans” are reeling from the virus.

The coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan, China, in December and swiftly spread across the globe. It has killed 1.1 million people.

The U.S. accounts for 4.25% of the world’s population but nearly a fifth of its recorded deaths, with more than 220,000.

“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Trump emphasized the record pace of vaccine development, with multiple companies in line to request emergency approval before the end of the year.

Federal officials say it may take until mid-2021 to inoculate everyone who wants the shot in the country, though Mr. Trump said it could be done sooner.

The president cited the military’s preparedness in delivering the vaccine, although federal officials say the military’s role will be in setting up manufacturing while a contractor, McKesson, works on distribution.

Mr. Trump said the U.S. cannot simply close up while the virus is swirling, criticizing the former vice president for living in his “basement” — a frequent swipe he takes at Mr. Biden, who hasn’t engaged in as many public campaign events.

The president said the nation is learning how to live with the virus, as is he, who got the virus and recovered a couple of weeks ago.

“Now they say I’m immune,” Mr. Trump said. “More and more people are getting better.”

Mr. Biden said people aren’t learning to live with the disease, but “learning to die with it,” Mr. Biden said.

He spoke in evocative terms about family members who have disappeared from households.

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