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WATCH: Trump defends handling of COVID-19, says Biden couldn't 'have done the job that we did’

PBS, 30 Sep 2020
President Trump defended his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, saying that his opponent, former Vice President and Democratic nominee Joe Biden “could never have done the job that we did.” More than 200,000 people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus, and Trump has been criticized for not instituting a national lockdown to slow transmission of the virus soon enough.

Trump claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease doctor in the U.S., had credited him for saving thousands of lives by urging state governors to shut down their economies to slow the spread of the virus. Fauci has said that lockdowns have saved “millions of lives,” but also that “no one is going to deny” that earlier mitigation efforts could have saved more lives.

The president then claimed that the U.S. was “weeks away” from a COVID-19 vaccine, but CDC Director Robert Redfield told Congress on Sept. 16 that any vaccine available in November or December would be in “very limited supply.” And Fauci has said that although a COVID-19 vaccine may be deemed safe and effective by the FDA by the end of the year, it will take a significant amount of time to distribute it to the entire U.S. population.

Trump also claimed that fewer people are now dying from COVID-19. While older adults made up the majority of people who contracted COVID-19 in the beginning of the pandemic, recent months have brought an "increased prevalence" of the disease among young adults, who are comparatively less likely to die from it. Fewer people, around 750, are now dying per day compared to the pandemic's peak at around 2,000 daily deaths. Biden and Trump participated in the first 2020 presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 29.

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