As the death toll in the United States from the coronavirus pandemic approaches 200,000, Harris attacked the Trump administration for “minimizing the seriousness” of the coronavirus outbreak and failing to do enough for millions of American struggling to make ends meet.
“There is no question that Donald Trump has been an abject failure and incompetent when it comes to addressing the severe job loss that has happened as a result of the pandemic, because he has failed to address the pandemic itself,” Harris told CNN. “We need to talk about how the economy is doing based on how working people are doing. And right now, working people are suffering.”
The unemployment rate in the United States stands at 8.4%, according to new Labor Department data released on Friday. That’s down from a high of 14.7% in April, but still far from the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 3.5% in February.
Harris continued to say she would not trust Trump’s word alone on the safety and efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine, but said she “would trust the word of public health experts and scientists,” including Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Joe Biden and I have a plan,” Harris said on vaccine distribution. “Donald Trump does not.”
Some context: Trump said on Friday he believed a coronavirus vaccine could “probably” come sometime in the month of October, though experts agree it is more likely to come in November or December.
A new University of Washington coronavirus model, routinely cited by the White House in the early days of the pandemic, is now projecting more than 400,000 dead by the end of the year.
Asked whether she believes states should mandate a coronavirus vaccine for public school students along with other vaccinations, Harris said she would listen to public health experts.
Harris also declined to back a mask mandate on a federal level, instead vowing a “national standard.”
“This is not about punishment. It’s not about big brother,” she said. “We have a president of the United States who made this a partisan issue.”
Harris added: “The virus could care less who you voted for in the last election or who you plan to vote for in the next election. We need leadership that appreciates that, on certain issues, they should not be partisan. Wearing a mask certainly shouldn’t be one of them.”