Joe Biden hits Donald Trump on COVID-19 response ahead of the president’s Janesville rally

Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, campaigns in Manitowoc on Sept. 21, and President Donald Trump campaigns at the Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee on Sept. 17.

Democrat Joe Biden accused Donald Trump of “knowingly downplaying the severity” of the coronavirus pandemic as the president was due in Janesville Saturday for a 6 p.m. airport rally.  

With cases of COVID-19 soaring in Wisconsin and across the country, Biden has made the Republican president’s handling of the pandemic a central part of the campaign.

While Trump has returned to the campaign trail for large rallies after testing positive for COVID-19, Biden has stuck to a schedule of small events with mandatory social distancing and mask-wearing.

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According to the Trump campaign, at the Janesville rally “attendees will be given a temperature check, masks which they are instructed to wear, and access to hand sanitizer.”

“Wisconsin is in the grips of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country,” Biden said in a statement. “Jill and I are praying for the health of those who’ve contracted the virus, and for the families who are mourning the loss of a loved one. We have lost far too many lives to this pandemic — and the sad fact is, it didn’t have to be this way.”

Biden said that “at virtually every turn” Trump “has panicked and tried to wish” the virus away, “rather than doing the hard work to get it under control.”

“And today, 150,000 fewer Wisconsin workers are employed than when President Trump took office and his failed response to the pandemic has crushed Wisconsin’s economy,” Biden said.

Biden vowed that if elected his administration “will trust the science, lead by example, speak the truth to the American people, and help Wisconsin families and small businesses build back better than before.”