Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris hold a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump as of Aug. 17, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. As Biden’s chances of winning the presidency in November increase, so does the likelihood that he will inherit a country still rooted in the trenches of fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic. So, what is Joe Biden’s coronavirus plan?
In July, Biden released a vast and detailed plan to fight COVID-19.
At its core, Biden’s coronavirus plan is drastically different from that of President Donald Trump because it expands the federal government’s role. While Trump has primarily passed responsibility to state governors to contain the virus, Biden aims for a cohesive national strategy.
“Biden believes we must spend whatever it takes, without delay, to meet public health needs and deal with the mounting economic consequences,” the Biden website says. “The federal government must act swiftly and aggressively to help protect and support our families, small businesses, first responders, and caregivers essential to help us face this challenge, those who are most vulnerable to health and economic impacts, and our broader communities—not to blame others or bail out corporations.”
On the Biden campaign website, the Biden Plan to Combat the Coronavirus and Prepare for Future Global Health Threats is expansive, running almost 7,000 words. (It does not include a national mandate for face coverings, although on Aug. 17, Biden called for every governor to pass their own.)
The plan is split into five sections:
- Restoring trust, credibility, and common purpose.
- Mounting an effective national emergency response that saves lives, protects frontline workers, and minimizes the spread of COVID-19.
- Eliminating cost barriers for prevention of and care for COVID-19.
- Pursuing decisive economic measures to help hard-hit workers, families, and small businesses and to stabilize the American economy.
- Rallying the world to confront this crisis while laying the foundation for the future.
The first section calls for the end of “political theater and willful misinformation” and calls for public health professionals, not politicians, to make all public health decisions. Biden also vows to restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense that was created during the Obama administration.
The second section of Biden’s plan calls for widely available and free testing and tasking relevant federal agencies to support hospitals before they reach capacity. That includes enlisting the Department of Defense and activating the Medical Reserve Corps’ 200,000 volunteer health professionals to serve across the country.
To carry out his plans, Biden says he plans to create a State and Local Emergency Fund—which will allocate 45% to state governments, 45% to local governments, and 10% reserved for special assistance for “hot-spots” of community spread.
“Governors and mayors will be given significant flexibility to ensure that they can target their health and economic spending where it is most needed in their respective states and cities,” the plan says.
In the third section of his coronavirus plan, Biden lays out how he plans to eliminate cost barriers for prevention and care. He says the Biden Plan “ensures that every person, whether insured or uninsured, will not have to pay a dollar out-of-pocket for visits related to COVID-19 testing, treatment, preventative services, and any eventual vaccine.”
Biden says he will accomplish that by amending the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act to cover all testing, treatment, and preventive services. He will also fully fund and expand authority for the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS).
In the fourth section, Biden lays out plans for some incredibly progressive programs, including 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave that covers sick workers, those caring for sick loved ones, those who must leave work because they are immunocompromised, and paid leave and childcare assistance for parents whose kids must stay home. It also covers paid leave for domestic workers, caregivers, gig economy workers, and independent contractors.
The developed State and Local Fund will also play a role in this section by helping fund mortgage and rental relief, employer assistance for job maintenance, interest-free loans for small businesses, and tax relief programs.
In the final section of Biden’s Coronavirus Plan, he plans to reinstate the U.S. as a world leader during the global crisis. This section includes assisting vulnerable nations, as well as American troops and deployed citizens.
It’s hard to discern just how much Biden’s plan differs from how Trump plans to fight the virus if he wins a second term. While Biden’s website has a section dedicated to his platform and plans if he were elected president, Trump does not have one of his own on his campaign website. It’s already been announced, though, that the two will discuss the coronavirus during their first presidential debate on Sept. 29.
But Trump still blasted Biden’s plan, saying Biden’s ideas were a “surrender to the virus.” Meanwhile, it seems increasingly clear to some experts that Trump is trying to get a vaccine approved in time for the November presidential election. After it was revealed on Sept. 9 that Trump told journalist Bob Woodward that he downplayed the danger of the virus in March, Biden ripped the president, saying, “He knew and purposely played it down. Worse, he lied to the American people.”
On Sept. 17, Biden continued his criticism of Trump, saying, “I don’t trust the president on vaccines. I trust Dr. Fauci. If Fauci says the vaccine is safe, I’d take the vaccine. We should listen to the scientists, not to the president.”