Joe Biden warned at Thursday night’s presidential debate that the U.S. was “about to go into a dark winter,” echoing the concerns of public health experts who caution about increased daily Covid-19 case counts converging with the annual flu season.
“We’re about to go into a dark winter. A dark winter,” Biden said. “And he has no clear plan, and there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”
Biden’s remarks came after President Donald Trump offered a rosy, unrealistic timeline for vaccine distribution. Responding to the Democratic nominee, the president said: “I don’t know if we’re going to have a dark winter at all. We’re opening up our country. We’ve learned and studied and understand the disease, which we didn’t at the beginning.”
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, previously predicted in July that “the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we’ve experienced in American public health.”
But Trump insisted Thursday that Americans were “learning to live with” the pandemic. “We have no choice. We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does,” he said.
When it was Biden’s turn to weigh in, the former vice president retorted: “People are learning to die with it.” The two candidates then sparred over Trump’s travel restrictions on China, and whether Biden considered the measure xenophobic.
“My response is he is xenophobic,” Biden said of Trump, “but not because he shut down access from China.”