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Coronavirus: Three Biden claims about Trump fact-checked

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Biden gives speech

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Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has made several claims about President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Biden says the president has ordered a slowdown in coronavirus testing, is failing to provide enough protective equipment for healthcare workers, and has attempted to block public-health funding.

We’ve taken a look at these claims.

Claim: “President Trump ordered his administration to slow down coronavirus testing.”

Verdict: Trump did suggest this in a speech, but officials say they have not been instructed to restrict testing.

At a rally on 21 June, President Trump told the crowd: “I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.”

But he has since called his comments “semi-tongue in cheek”, and his press secretary has said the comments were made in jest.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top infectious disease expert, said: “To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing.”

The US conducted an average of almost 744,000 tests a day in July, compared with around 508,000 a day in June, according to the Covid Tracking Project – so testing has increased since President Trump’s comments.

The president has called testing “a double-edged sword”, and says the US looks like it is experiencing a rise in cases because of increased testing.

However, although testing has increased, so has the rate of tests coming back positive – so testing alone doesn’t account for the rise in the rate of coronavirus cases.

Claim: “Our healthcare workers still don’t have enough PPE.”

Verdict: There is evidence of shortages in some healthcare facilities.

President Trump has touted his administration’s efforts to ramp up supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), which was in short supply at the start of the pandemic.

Production has increased, but Mr Biden says the efforts still fall short.

In a survey published on 27 July by National Nurses United, the US’s largest union of registered nurses, 87% of those who work at hospitals reported reusing at least one piece of single-use PPE.

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Image caption

Reusing single-use PPE can increase the exposure of nurses and patients to viruses

The American Medical Association has also said there is still a shortage of PPE.

There is concern that with cases remaining high in the US and more businesses reopening, PPE supply production and distribution may need to expand rapidly.

Claim: “President Trump tried to block CDC funding.”

Verdict: Insufficient evidence.

Mr Biden tweeted this without context or evidence – we’ve approached the Biden campaign for further comment.

US lawmakers are currently negotiating a major coronavirus relief package, and there have been reports in US media that the Trump administration is lobbying to reduce funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC is the government agency responsible for public health in the US, and it has had disagreements with the president during the pandemic over reopening guidelines and other measures.

However, the White House denies blocking CDC funding, saying: “The claim from Biden’s team is false. In our latest budget, the CDC saw an increase of $635m, an 8% increase.”

This is true, and the CDC has received an increase in funding during the pandemic response.

The Trump administration’s budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year, starting in October 2020, did initially propose cuts to the CDC – but it is now set to increase funding, including for infectious disease activities.

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