- Joe Biden outlined a plan for safely reopening the U.S. economy as states lifting restrictions see an increase in coronavirus cases.
- The proposal involves guaranteed testing, protective equipment and leave for workers, along with contact tracing and further support for small businesses.
- After the U.S. added 2.5 million jobs in May, President Donald Trump said the U.S. is "largely through" the pandemic.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee unveiled the proposal as he started a roundtable in Philadelphia about safely lifting public health lockdowns during the pandemic. While the coronavirus outbreak would likely look much different in January if Biden won the presidency and took office then, his campaign's plan offers a contrast to President Donald Trump's reopening policies, which it said fall "woefully short."
Biden's campaign said the proposal would:
- Guarantee coronavirus testing and personal protective equipment for people who go back into work
- Cover medical and family leave for people who either get sick with Covid-19 or have to care for loved ones
- Temporarily expand workplace safety protections and fine businesses that do not meet the standards
- Create a workforce of more than 100,000 coronavirus contact tracers in conjunction with state, local and tribal officials
- Require companies to make specific arrangements for workers who either face a high risk of health complications themselves or have family members who do, or let the employees receive unemployment insurance if they cannot work safely
- Provide grants for small businesses to cover the costs associated with reopening and ensure companies owned by people of color do not get shut out from federal resources
- Cover additional costs schools and child-care centers face as they reopen
In explaining why he wants the federal government to provide money for paid leave and reopening child-care centers, among other initiatives, Biden said the economy would be in "deeper trouble" if the U.S. does not spend more.
As states reboot their economies in phases, the White House has downplayed the immediate need for more federal action to either make the process smoother or further aid individuals who have lost jobs or struggled to cover costs during the pandemic. While Trump has previously endorsed sending another stimulus check to Americans, his administration does not expect to restart relief talks until July.
The president and his advisors have pointed to the fact that the economy added 2.5 million jobs in May as evidence that the reopening process is working — though the unemployment rate is still 13.3%, higher than at any point after the 2008 financial crisis. They also have noted that the U.S. government has not exhausted all of the money allocated during the outbreak to keep employees on payrolls and allow businesses to rehire.
Warning signs have emerged as states lift restrictions. States such as Texas and Arizona have seen increases in Covid-19 cases after they rebooted their economies.
On Friday, Trump claimed the U.S. is "largely through" the pandemic.
The White House and Senate Republicans aim to pass liability protections for doctors and businesses as states reopen.