Former Vice President Joe Biden, five months ahead of the national election in November, accused President Donald Trump on Thursday of failing to offer a comprehensive plan to jump-start the faltering U.S. economy in the face of the renewed threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Trump may have forgotten about coronavirus, but we have 20 million unemployed," Biden told a round-table discussion with community leaders in Philadelphia. "The federal government has abdicated any effective White House role."
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said Republican Trump "basically has a one-point plan: opening businesses. He does nothing to keep workers safe.
"Secondly, he's done little to generate consumer confidence," Biden said.
With more than 13% unemployed in the U.S., Biden offered his own recovery plan focused on the safe return of workers to their jobs. While the number of confirmed coronavirus victims has diminished in New York, the hardest-hit city in the U.S., new outbreaks are spiking in less populous states.
Hundreds of Americans are dying every day from the coronavirus, with the death toll now topping 113,000.
Biden said if he is elected and assumes the presidency in January 2021, he would call for government-funded coronavirus tests for all workers returning to their jobs, as well as any personal protective equipment they need, such as face masks.
Biden, wearing a mask dangling from his left ear but not covering his face, said he would also advance a proposal to have the federal government pay the salaries of any workers sickened by the virus while they are recovering and also reimburse their salaries if they are forced to take time off to care for family members with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
He said the government should "set rigorous standards for how it's safe to reopen" businesses and impose "tough fines for businesses who don't comply."
In a statement provided by his campaign after the event began, Biden also promised to create a national contact tracing group and to launch a "safer for shoppers" program, in which businesses would be identified that have met coronavirus testing standards and other criteria.
At the Philadelphia event, Biden was seated at the center of several tables, while other people sat at appropriate social distances away from him. The campaign said temperature checks were done for everyone attending the event.
Trump plans to resume his large-scale political rallies on June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.