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Here’s how Joe Biden would reopen the economy as coronavirus spreads

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden holds a roundtable meeting on reopening the economy with community leaders at the Enterprise Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 11, 2020.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

As states reopen businesses and U.S. coronavirus cases tick higher, former Vice President Joe Biden outlined a plan Thursday to reopen the economy. 

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee unveiled the proposal as he started a roundtable in Philadelphia about safely lifting public health lockdowns during the pandemic. While the coronavirus outbreak would likely look much different in January if Biden won the presidency, his campaign’s plan offers a contrast from President Donald Trump‘s reopening policies, which it said fall “woefully short.” 

Biden’s campaign said the proposal would: 

  • Guarantee coronavirus testing and personal protective equipment for people who go back into work
  • Cover medical and family leave for people who either get sick with Covid-19 or have to care for loved ones 
  • Temporarily expand workplace safety protections and fine businesses that do not meet the standards 
  • Create a workforce of more than 100,000 coronavirus contact tracers in conjunction with state, local and tribal officials
  • Require companies to make specific arrangements for workers who either face a high risk of health complications themselves or have family members who do, or let the employees receive unemployment insurance if they cannot work safely 
  • Provide grants for small businesses to cover the costs associated with reopening and ensure companies owned by people of color do not get shut out from federal resources
  • Cover additional costs schools and child-care centers face as they reopen 

In explaining why he wants the federal government to provide money for paid leave and reopening child-care centers, among other initiatives, Biden said the economy would be in “deeper trouble” if the U.S. does not spend more. 

As states reboot their economies in phases, the White House has downplayed the immediate need for more federal action to either make the process smoother or further aid individuals who have lost jobs or struggled to cover costs during the pandemic. While Trump has previously endorsed sending another stimulus check to Americans, his administration does not expect to restart relief talks until July. 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden holds a roundtable meeting on reopening the economy with community leaders at the Enterprise Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 11, 2020.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

The president and his advisors have pointed to the fact that the economy added 2.5 million jobs in May as evidence that the reopening process is working — though the unemployment rate is still 13.3%, higher than at any point after the 2008 financial crisis. They also have noted that the U.S. government has not exhausted all of the money allocated during the outbreak to keep employees on payroll and allow businesses to rehire. 

Warning signs have emerged as states lift restrictions. States such as Texas and Arizona have seen increases in Covid-19 cases after they rebooted their economies.

On Friday, Trump claimed the U.S. is “largely through” the pandemic.

The White House and Senate Republicans aim to pass liability protections for doctors and businesses as states reopen.

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