Trump must wake up to virus havoc: Biden

Will Weissert and Alexandra Jaffe
Joe Biden has accused Donald Trump of losing interest in the coronavirus pandemic

Joe Biden has unleashed a stinging critique of Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus, calling on the US president to "wake up" to the havoc caused by the pandemic and do more to prevent further harm.

"Donald Trump wants to style himself as a wartime president," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said at a recreation centre in the Philadelphia suburbs.

"Unlike any other wartime leader, he takes no responsibility, he exercises no leadership, now he has just flat surrendered the fight."

Biden has steadily stepped up his attacks on Trump's leadership in recent weeks. But his remarks on Wednesday were especially sharp, trying to counter the populism Trump hopes to ride to re-election with stern warnings about how dangerous such an approach would be.

At times pounding his podium for emphasis, Biden said the Republican president wants to declare the pandemic over even as the outbreak continues to kill Americans and disrupt the economy.

"We may lose some of the progress we've begun to make all because he's lost interest," Biden said.

The US has topped two million coronavirus infections, and some states are reporting spikes in cases after reopening their economies. A surge has been reported this week in Florida and Arizona, likely political battlegrounds in the November election.

Still, Trump is eager for the country to return to normalcy. He's hoping that the reopening of businesses and other aspects of life will revive the economy - and his re-election prospects.

Trump will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for his first major campaign rally in months on Saturday despite concerns from local health officials.

Biden is taking a much different course. He's spent much of his time at his Delaware home to prevent the spread of the virus. Most campaign activities, including fundraisers, have moved online, a strategy that probably will continue in the coming weeks.

Biden has announced a virtual fundraiser next week with former President Barack Obama, the first time the two have appeared together in months.

When Biden does make public appearances, they usually are limited to locations in Delaware or nearby Pennsylvania. Those events have included strict rules for wearing masks and practising social distance.

He hasn't taken questions from reporters since April 2. Beyond Pennsylvania, Biden hasn't visited any of the premier battleground states such as Michigan and Wisconsin since the pandemic struck.

Biden's campaign has pledged to resume a normal campaign schedule that will take him around the country, but not before authorities and health officials deem it safe.