Biden focuses on his COVID plan in the first debate—here’s the key points
In the first presidential debate on Tuesday night, Democratic candidate Joe Biden said President Trump “has no plan” to overcome the coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 7 million Americans and left 200,000 dead.
“I laid out back in March exactly what we should be doing and again in July what we should be doing,” Biden said. “We should be providing all the protective gear possible, the money the House has passed in order to be able to go out and get people the help they need to keep their businesses open.”
What exactly is Biden’s plan for combatting COVID-19, then? Here are three key points from the former vice president’s coronavirus plan.
Biden’s plan calls for a temporary small- and medium-sized business loan program. The proposal would be coordinated with the Small Business Association and Treasury Department to offer interest-free loans to qualifying businesses “through the duration of the crisis.” Along with increased funding for the Small Business Association, the plan calls for a new program that gives states funding to directly increase lending to small businesses.
In addition to these federal measures, a State and Local Emergency Fund would be created to provide employer assistance for job maintenance, which Biden says could help keep workers on the job. The fund would also allow states and cities to create new job initiatives to address declines in employment.
Biden’s plan emphasizes remote learning and pledges to provide federal child care centers and assistance to schools—especially low-income Title I schools—for schools burdened by additional costs. These funds could be used to further remote education or after-school remote activities, the plan says.
An expanded, federally-funded food relief program would also allow schools to submit waiver applications to provide meals for children even if the school remains closed for education.
Biden, during the debate, said that while a vaccine may be completed in the coming weeks, “every serious company is talking about” distribution not occurring until early to mid-next year. His plan calls for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to “swiftly accelerate the development of rapid diagnostic tests, therapeutics and medicines, and vaccines” in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration.
Biden’s plan pledges that “every person, whether insured or uninsured, will not have to pay a dollar out-of-pocket” for an eventual vaccine. The administration intends to do this by amending the Public Health Service Act, which would require commercial health insurers with no copayments or deductibles.