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Biden to Criticize Trump For Golfing, Holding Rallies During Covid Crisis

Joe Biden is set to sharply criticize Donald Trump’s stewardship of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying the president is dismissing the threat of the virus as cases surge.

More than six months after the first reported Covid-19 case in the U.S., Biden on Tuesday will deliver a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, outlining what he will call a failed presidential response that has exacerbated a crisis other countries have managed to control.

Biden will assail Trump for holding crowded campaign events and playing golf. And the Democratic nominee will charge that the president called for slowing down testing for the virus because increased cases would hurt his political prospects, according to a preview of the speech released by the Biden campaign.

More than 125,000 Americans have died as a result of the pandemic and millions have lost their jobs as the economy shut down to stop the spread. In recent weeks, new hot spots have emerged as some states reopened their economies, particularly in the South and across the Sunbelt.

41,556 in U.S.Most new cases today

-10% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​111 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-2.​3% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), May


Biden will outline steps the country should take to fight the virus and safely reopen the economy, his campaign added. The former vice president has previously called on all Americans to wear masks and said if he were president, he would make it compulsory.

Trump has refused to wear a mask and has not explicitly encouraged Americans to do so.

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In Hot-Spot States, Those Seeking Tests Meet Long Lines, Delays

The U.S. is again grappling with a shortfall of testing that has hobbled the nation since the pandemic’s early weeks, and now threatens to further undermine containment efforts at a crucial moment.

In new hot spots like Arizona, Texas and Florida, where Covid-19 is rapidly spreading, lines for testing extend outside of urgent-care offices and other sites. Two high-school football stadiums in Houston regularly hit capacity by mid-morning and have to turn people away.

The country’s largest labs are forecasting a surge in demand that could lead to longer waits for test results, and have warned that limited amounts of critical testing supplies could become a constraint. Though capacity has expanded, widespread testing remains elusive, in part due to persistent supply shortages.

“We are still grossly inadequate. We’re so far behind,” said Howard Forman, director of the Yale School of Public Health’s health-care management program. “We still have a supply issue, and then we had a demand issue. You have both issues playing out. At the federal, state and local level, you need both those things addressed.”

The testing dearth comes months into a public-health crisis in which, absent a vaccine, Covid-19 screenings have become the first line of defense. Reopening states only turned up the pressure, boosting demand for testing as Americans increasingly went back to work, ate out, got haircuts and gathered socially.

The surge in cases has forced states to reconsider their reopening efforts. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Monday paused plans to restart indoor dining on July 2. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also said skyrocketing cases in the South and West have prompted them to consider postponing dining’s return. U.S. virus deaths have exceeded 125,000 out of more than 2.5 million reported cases.

The pause in reopening was endorsed by Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday joined Vice President Mike Pence in encouraging the public to wear masks. On Tuesday, top federal health officials including infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci are expected to appear at a Senate committee hearing to discuss efforts to get back to work and school.

Worldwide, deaths have surpassed 500,000. The World Health Organization said “the worst is yet to come” as some countries see a resurgence of cases. Half the deaths are coming from the Americas.

The shortfalls in U.S. testing availability highlight the Trump administration’s failure to execute a cohesive national strategy. The burden shifted to states, which were provided some testing supplies in May and but have been told only limited amounts are available thereafter.

The U.S. processed about 557,000 tests each day, on average, over the last week, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Given the size of the current U.S. outbreak, 2 million to 4 million tests a day would be needed “to do something to really wipe it out,” Forman estimated. “We’re not really close to that.”

In Texas, which is quickly becoming the new U.S. epicenter, the strain from increasing testing demand was felt by hospitals, public-health departments and patients alike. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said capacity at the Delmar and Butler stadium sites will be expanded by 30% starting Tuesday.

A line that started before 5 a.m. Sunday at an urgent-care center in South Austin was compared to the wait for a wristband to Austin City Limits, the city’s annual music festival, or the queue for barbecue at Franklin’s, which would draw dozens customers to its doors before sunrise.

Kaitlin Heikes, a 26-year-old San Antonio resident, had to drive 45 minutes to Spring Branch for a rapid test. She made an appointment on Sunday for the following day after she didn’t have any luck on Friday or Saturday.

At the Houston Methodist hospital system, demand for testing doubled over the last week or so, David Bernard, medical director of clinical pathology, said in a Friday interview. The lab has faced an uphill battle securing supplies, and equipment is needed after diagnostics companies initially prioritized early hot spots like New York.

“We’ve been stretched,” Bernard said. Test manufacturers “don’t give you as much as you want, and it’s been a struggle. We’ve had to work as hard as we can to get things done.”

Covid cases are on the rise in Harris County, home to sprawling Houston, which for a time had been able to meet demand, said Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health.

‘Not Enough’

“We’re doing everything we can to meet or increase capacity,” Shah said in an interview. “But it is not enough right now.”

A local Texas health department was still receiving test results by fax as recently as last week, slowing them down further, said David Lakey, UT System’s vice chancellor for health affairs and chief medical officer and the former commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“If we had today 6,400 new cases and you have that kind of volume each day, there isn’t possibly a way for the staff of the local health departments” to do contact tracing, he said. “They are getting overwhelmed right now.”

California has experienced delays, too. Barbara Ferrer, who directs Los Angeles County’s health department, said in an interview that some testing centers can take a week to report results, also creating problems for contact tracing. At that point, those who test positive will have had days to go around infecting more people before the county can talk to them and the people around them, Ferrer said.

In Florida, hundreds of cars have been lining up at test centers. Health officials said wait times could be up to four hours on Monday at the Hard Rock Stadium site serving the Miami metropolitan area, and the Orange County Convention Center site in Central Florida had waits of about five hours. In St. Petersburg, local police said a site at Tropicana Field ran out of tests only about an hour due to “overwhelming turnout.”

“The testing capacity is disappointing,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman wrote in a tweet. “We are working with the state to bring additional, expanded testing.”

— With assistance by Joe Carroll, David R Baker, Jonathan Levin, and Rachel Adams-Heard

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Biden Opens Up Largest Polling Lead of the Year Over Trump

Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump 50% to 36% in a new nationwide poll Wednesday, the latest alarm bell for the president’s campaign as the economy, coronavirus and Black Lives Matter protests continue to weigh on his re-election bid.

The 14-point difference in the New York Times/Siena College poll matches the largest margin Biden has seen this year, and it shows the presumptive Democratic nominee leading or making inroads among a broad cross-section of demographic groups.

Amid a campaign schedule curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, the former vice president is ahead by 22 points among women, but also 3 points among men. He’s ahead or effectively tied in every age and ethnic group, and he leads by 21 points among independent voters.

QuickTake: Why a Gender Gap Lies Between Trump and a Second Term

39,436 in BrazilMost new cases today

-7% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​011 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-2.​3% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), May


Trump’s only dependable lead comes from registered Republicans and from the one demographic group that gave him an advantage in industrial battleground states in 2016: white, non-college educated voters. He leads Biden among that cohort by 19 points.

Biden’s national polling lead at this point in the campaign cycle is larger than any enjoyed by Hillary Clinton in the last six months of the 2016 campaign. And Biden is leading in every public poll in June in key battleground states like Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all states that Trump won in 2016, giving him an Electoral College victory despite losing the popular vote.

But national polls don’t always predict the outcome. Trump won some of those states by a fraction of a percentage point -- allowing him to pull off an upset victory despite trailing in national polls in the days before the election. If he outperforms Biden in those key states again, that could tilt the balance.

Trump’s 50% approval rating on economic issues continues to be a bright spot. Only 39% approve of his handling of criminal justice, 38% on the coronavirus, 33% on race relations and 29% on the nationwide protests after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

Trump has responded to the protests by ordering federal troops to guard the White House and celebrating the “Great American Heritage” of statues and military bases commemorating Confederate generals. His attempt to reboot his campaign with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma was met with sparse crowds and controversy when he said he ordered officials to slow coronavirus testing because it was showing increased infection numbers.

Biden, meanwhile, has been largely confined to the immediate vicinity of his Delaware home, conducting fundraisers and campaign events online. He has held a few small campaign events in Delaware and nearby Philadelphia. A Tuesday fundraiser with former President Barack Obama raised $11 million.

Biden’s 14-point advantage is the same lead registered in a CNN poll earlier this month that caused an angry Trump campaign to demand the cable channel retract its findings. The Times sample contained 26% Republicans, which is consistent with the findings of similar telephone polls; the Trump campaign says pollsters should assume the same 33% representation found in 2016 exit polls.

The addition of the New York Times poll pushed Biden’s lead in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls to over 10 percentage points for the first time.

The telephone survey of 1,337 registered voters was conducted from June 17 to 22 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

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