With the presidential race hurtling into its final stretch, Joseph R. Biden Jr. sought on Friday to amplify the closing argument he delivered on the debate stage a night earlier, accusing President Trump of failing to stem the ballooning coronavirus crisis and vowing more aggressive federal action for the “dark winter ahead.”
In a speech near his home in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden denounced Mr. Trump’s familiar assertion that the pandemic was “rounding the corner” and “going away” even as cases surge across the country, placing the blame for the rising death toll squarely at the president’s feet.
“As I told him last night,” Mr. Biden said of the Thursday night debate, “We’re not learning to live with it. We’re learning to die with it.” He noted the more than 220,000 people who have already died from the virus.
Arguing that the coronavirus “isn’t showing any signs of slowing down,” Mr. Biden repeated with a tone of incredulity Mr. Trump’s comments earlier in the week that he would do “not much” differently if he were given the opportunity for a do-over.
“As many as 210,000 avoidable deaths, and there’s not much he would do differently?” Mr. Biden said, citing figures from a recent study out of Columbia University. “If this is a success, what’s a failure look like?”
During his address, Mr. Biden laid out the immediate steps he would take to rein in the coronavirus if elected. He also said he would ask Congress to put a bill on his desk by the end of January outlining the resources needed for the country’s public health and economic response to the virus.
Mr. Biden said he would ask every governor to institute mask mandates; if they refused, he said, he would work with local officials to get local mandates in place nationwide. And he said he would require masks in federal buildings and on interstate transportation.
Once again connecting the future of the Affordable Care Act to the Supreme Court battle, Mr. Biden warned that overturning the health law would mean people would have to pay for a potential coronavirus vaccine and vowed to make it free for everyone.