WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With the number of U.S. coronavirus cases now topping 2 million, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday blasted anew President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, saying Trump “still refuses to take the virus seriously.”
Noting that the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise in more than 20 states, Biden, who will face Trump in the Nov. 3 election, accused the Republican president of “trying to ignore reality.”
“Just like Donald Trump could not wish the disease away in April, or tweet it away in May, he can’t ignore it away in June,” Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama, said in a statement.
“Even now, after the incredible toll our country has already paid, President Trump still refuses to take the virus seriously,” Biden added.
Trump’s campaign responded by pointing to the president’s travel restrictions from China, saying they saved “countless lives.”
“Under the president’s leadership, the United States has conducted more virus tests than all other nations combined,” said campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh. “Joe Biden, meanwhile, continues to lob ineffective partisan bombs from the sidelines, looking for relevance where there is none.”
Trump’s campaign said on Wednesday it would hold a rally – his first in months since the pandemic shut down most of the country – on June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Both Biden and Trump held small-scale roundtable events on Thursday with Biden in Philadelphia and the president in Dallas. Both are scheduled to hold fundraisers in the evening.
More than 116,000 people in the United States have died during the coronavirus outbreak, the most of any country. About half a dozen states including Texas and Arizona are grappling with a rising number of coronavirus patients filling hospital beds, fanning concerns that the reopening of the U.S. economy may spark a second wave of infections.
The U.S. stock market fell more than 1,800 points on Thursday over worries of a pandemic resurgence.
Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Peter Cooney
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