World

Trump, Biden rallies show sharp contrast as coronavirus surges again

Trump says US turning the corner while Biden warns of grim winter

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden gave starkly contrasting messages on Saturday about the coronavirus pandemic, taking their campaigns for the White House on the road as Covid-19 cases surged again.

The US reported a record 88,973 cases on Saturday, taking its total to more than 8.5 million along with 224,751 deaths, the highest in the world.

Mr Trump addressed a few thousand supporters at a tightly packed, in-person, outdoor rally in North Carolina, one of the battleground states in the Nov 3 election.

He again said America was turning the corner in the fight against Covid-19 and mocked Mr Biden's more cautious campaigning style.

Mr Biden, a former vice-president, addressed supporters in about 130 vehicles at a drive-in rally in the swing state of Pennsylvania and warned of a grim winter ahead unless the Trump administration did a better job of halting the disease, which has killed more than 224,000 Americans.

Opinion polls show Mr Biden leading Mr Trump nationally, but the race is much closer in the battleground states that will decide the election. Mr Trump was headed to large rallies in two more of those states, Ohio and Wisconsin, later on Saturday.

In Lumberton, North Carolina, he told supporters he was offering a fast recovery from the economic damage wrought by virus lockdowns, which have devastated small businesses and put millions out of work.

"It is a choice between a Trump super boom and a Biden lockdown," the Republican President said.

"We are rounding the turn," he said, repeating a claim he has been making for months that America is close to getting the better of the virus.

RESURGENCE

In contrast, Mr Biden warned that the cold months ahead could be even harsher due to a resurgence of the virus.

"It is going to be a dark winter ahead unless we change our ways," he said of Mr Trump's attempts to contain the pandemic.

Mr Biden was addressing supporters in the town of Bristol who had gathered in pickup trucks or cars, many with their windows or sunroofs down, to avoid possible virus infection.

Mr Biden's campaign limited each vehicle to a maximum of four passengers.

At one point, Mr Biden called out a group of Trump supporters who were shouting into microphones nearby.

"We don't do things like those chumps out there with the microphone are doing. The Trump guys. It is about decency."

A majority of Americans appear ready to accept the result of an exhausting campaign even if their preferred candidate loses, a survey showed.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted from Oct 13 to 20, showed that 79 per cent of Americans, including 59 per cent of those who want to re-elect Mr Trump, will accept a win by Mr Biden even if they may not support a Biden presidency.

Meanwhile, US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said yesterday it would be clear if a vaccine was safe and effective by December, but that more widespread vaccination would not be likely until next year.

"We will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, the beginning of December," Dr Fauci told the BBC.

"When you talk about vaccinating a substantial proportion of the population, so that you can have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak, that very likely will not be until the second or third quarter of the year." - REUTERS

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