US President Donald Trump has told supporters in Florida that the coronavirus pandemic is about to end and accused Democratic rival Joe Biden of exaggerating the health crisis to get Americans to vote for him.
The pandemic, which killed more than 224,000 people in the US and cost millions more jobs, has become the dominant theme of the campaign, and Trump has been put on the defensive over his administration’s handling of the crisis.
Mr Biden said earlier in the day the president had given up containing the virus and promised that he would urge Congress to pass a comprehensive Covid-19 bill that he would sign within the first 10 days of taking office if he did wins the election on November 3rd.
“He left America. He just wants us to go deaf, ”Biden said during a speech in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. “I’m not going to close the economy. I will not close the country. I will turn off the virus. “
During two rallies in the battlefield state of Florida, Mr. Trump mocked Mr. Biden for saying in the presidential debate on Thursday evening that the United States was entering a “dark winter.”
“We’re going to end this pandemic quickly,” said Trump, who downplayed the threat from the start, at The Villages, a sprawling age community in central Florida. He later told a large crowd in Pensacola that the choice was “between a boom and a lockdown”.
Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment warned Friday that the virus could kill more than half a million people in the United States by the end of February. According to the study, around 130,000 lives could be saved if everyone wore masks.
The election stops followed the second and final debate between the two competitors on Thursday evening as they debated how to deal with the pandemic.
Mr Trump’s campaign said Friday it raised $ 26 million for the debate. Mr Biden’s campaign, which has beaten Mr Trump in the money race for the past few months, has not released a fundraiser from the debate, but has instead sent appeals declaring it overwhelmed.
“Debate days are usually some of our best fundraising days, but we haven’t seen the increase we expected,” said a fundraiser for supporters.
Eleven days before the election, more than 53 million Americans have voted, a record pace, according to the University of Florida election project.
Voter turnout record
Michael McDonald, who manages the project, said the elections could set a modern turnout record, beating the 60 percent participation rate in the recent presidential election.
The surge in early votes suggests both strong interest in the race and a population wanting to avoid being exposed to Covid-19 in the crowd on election day. The massive total number of early votes gives Mr. Trump less leeway to change his mind before the vote is complete.
Opinion polls show he is lagging Mr Biden nationally and, by a lesser distance, in several battlefield states that will decide who will sit in the White House on January 20th.
Mr Trump said these polls underestimated his support.
“I think we run a lot of states you don’t know about,” he told reporters at the White House. – Reuters
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