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‘You lost your freedom because he didn’t act’: Biden tries to focus the campaign on Trump’s virus response.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. sought on Thursday to focus the presidential campaign on President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.
Appearing on CNN at a town-hall-style event less than two weeks before the first presidential debate, Mr. Biden cast the president as a callous leader and chided Attorney General William P. Barr for suggesting that local stay-at-home mandates were the greatest threat to individual freedoms since slavery.
“What takes away your freedom is not being able to see your kid, not being able to go to the football game or baseball game, not being able to see your mom or dad sick in the hospital, not being able to do the things, that’s what is costing us our freedom,” Mr. Biden said. “And it’s been the failure of this president to deal, to deal with this virus, and he knew about it.”
At other turns, Mr. Biden pointed to revelations from a new book by the journalist Bob Woodward that the president knowingly minimized the risks of the coronavirus, and added to his earlier warnings that Mr. Trump had politicized the rollout of a vaccine.
“I don’t trust the president on vaccines,” Mr. Biden said at the town hall near his childhood home of Scranton, Pa., as audience members listened from their cars. “I trust Dr. Fauci,” he said, referring to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “If Fauci says a vaccine is safe, I’d take the vaccine.”
Mr. Biden also said that he could not enforce a national mask mandate everywhere, breaking with a position he had taken a day earlier. But he asserted that he would have the authority to do so “on federal land.”
Many states require the use of masks and have issued stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus. Earlier this week, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggested that masks might be more effective in fighting the pandemic than a vaccine — only to have Mr. Trump call his statement a mistake.
In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said that Mr. Biden should have received more scrutiny of his plans and his record on matters including the economy.
Mr. Biden’s appearance, his biggest on a national stage since he accepted the Democratic nomination last month, came on the same night that Mr. Trump announced about $13 billion in assistance to farmers at a campaign rally in the battleground state of Wisconsin.
More than 2,200 new cases were announced in Wisconsin on Thursday, a single-day record, according to a New York Times database, and the state has added more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin canceled plans to travel to his home state with Mr. Trump and appear at the rally, saying that he would self-isolate for two weeks after coming into contact with an infected person.
Earlier on Thursday, a former Homeland Security aide to Vice President Mike Pence endorsed Mr. Biden and accused MR. Trump of drastically mismanaging the response to the coronavirus crisis.
The former aide, Olivia Troye, played a central role in running the White House’s coronavirus task force until leaving the government last month. In an online ad, she said she was voting for Mr. Biden because she believed the nation was in a “constitutional crisis” and that “at this point it’s country over party.”
Mr. Pence fired back from the White House.
“I haven’t read her comments in any detail,” he said on Thursday. “But it reads to me like one more disgruntled employee that has decided to play politics during an election year.”
In Israel, a surging virus and a new lockdown greet the year’s holiest days.
As Israelis prepare to celebrate the holiest days on the Jewish calendar under a fresh lockdown, organizing prayer services is proving to be more of a mathematical brainteaser than a spiritual exercise.
Rabbis must arrange worshipers into clusters of 20 to 50, separated by dividers, determining the size of the groups based on complex calculations involving local infection rates, and how many entrances and square feet their synagogues have. Masks will be required, and many seats will have to remain empty.
With the virus rampaging again, Israel will become one of the few places in the world to go into a second lockdown, which went into effect on Friday, on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.
The government has issued a list of restrictions — along with a plethora of exemptions that many criticize as a formula for confusion and noncompliance.
The atmosphere in the run-up to the holidays was more despairing than joyous.
“These are not the holidays we were hoping for,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the president of Ohr Torah Stone, an Israel-based Jewish education group with emissaries around the world. “The fragility of life is upon us, but I see people rising to the occasion.”
The three-week national lockdown was timed to coincide with the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur holy days and the festival of Sukkot, in the hope of causing less economic damage because business slows down in any case around the holidays. It was also aimed at preventing large family meals that could become petri dishes for the virus.
Israel successfully limited the spread of the virus in the spring, but recently its infection rate has spiraled into one of the world’s worst. The country has had more than 300 confirmed new cases per 100,000 people over the last week — more than double the rate in Spain, the hardest-hit European country, and quadruple that of the United States.
In other news from around the world:
More than 30 million cases of the coronavirus have been reported worldwide as of Friday morning, according to a New York Times database. India, in particular, has recently contributed significantly to the count, having added more than 93,000 new cases a day on average over the last week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia on Friday raised the cap on international arrivals to 6,000 from 4,000 people a week, after critics accused him of leaving citizens stranded overseas. Approximately 24,000 Australians are currently outside the country, Mr. Morrison said, adding that he hoped many of them would be home by Christmas. The state of Queensland also said on Friday that it would allow flights to resume to and from the Australian Capital Territory next week. Australia has reported 297 new cases in the past week, and its second-largest city, Melbourne, remains under lockdown.
New Zealand recorded no new cases of the virus on Friday for the first time in more than a month, after an outbreak in Auckland in August threatened the country’s progress in keeping the virus at bay. The country now has just 70 active cases. Of those, 37 are from community transmission and the rest are from overseas arrivals.
Alongside England’s sharp increase in coronavirus cases, the number of people hospitalized with the virus is also doubling roughly every eight days. Nearly 200 people were admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, according to the latest government statistics, compared with 84 on Sept. 7. At the peak of the pandemic in April, Britain was admitting more than 2,000 new patients to the hospital each day. Britain’s health secretary said on Friday that the acceleration in the number of cases and hospital admissions showed the need to “take action” and called on the public to adhere to restrictions.
A much-criticized testing recommendation on the C.D.C.’s website last month was not written by C.D.C. scientists.
A heavily criticized recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month about who should be tested for the coronavirus was not written by C.D.C. scientists and was posted to the agency’s website despite their serious objections, according to several people familiar with the matter as well as internal documents obtained by The New York Times.
The guidance said it was not necessary to test people without symptoms of Covid-19 even if they had been exposed to the virus. It came at a time when public health experts were pushing for more testing rather than less, and administration officials told The Times that the document was a C.D.C. product and had been revised with input from the agency’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield.
But officials told The Times this week that the Department of Health and Human Services did the rewriting itself and then “dropped” it into the C.D.C.’s public website, flouting the agency’s strict scientific review process.
“That was a doc that came from the top down, from the H.H.S. and the task force,” said a federal official with knowledge of the matter, referring to the White House task force on the coronavirus. “That policy does not reflect what many people at the C.D.C. feel should be the policy.”
Adm. Brett Giroir, the administration’s testing coordinator and an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, the C.D.C.’s parent organization, said in an interview Thursday that the original draft came from the C.D.C., but he “coordinated editing and input from the scientific and medical members of the task force.”
Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Peter Baker, Sydney Ember, Nicholas Fandos, Katie Glueck, Mike Ives, Isabel Kershner, Apoorva Mandavilli, Anna Schaverien, Michael D. Shear, Mitch Smith and Glenn Thrush.