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Fact-Checking Biden on the Coronavirus and His Own Record

Since successfully securing the Democratic nomination in April, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has centered his low-profile marketing campaign on hammering President Trump’s dealing with of the coronavirus epidemic. We rounded up some inaccurate claims in his latest remarks.

What Mr. Biden Said

“There’s a study out of Columbia University and a disease control center up there. They pointed out that if he had listened to me and others and acted just one week earlier to deal with this virus, there’d be 36,000 fewer people dead.”
— in an interview in May on the radio program “The Breakfast Club”

This is deceptive. A study by infectious disease modelers at Columbia University did discover that about 36,000 deaths could have been prevented by means of early May had social distancing measures been enacted by March 8, fairly than in mid-March. But there isn’t any document of Mr. Biden urging adoption of these measures earlier than March 8, nor does Mr. Trump have the facility to compel their nationwide enforcement.

The examine estimated the mixed results of all intervention practices together with masks carrying, journey restrictions, enterprise and faculty closings and shelter-in-place orders as “they were varyingly applied and complied with over time on a county-by-county basis,” mentioned Jeffrey Shaman, a professor of environmental well being sciences at Columbia University and a co-author of the examine.

Mr. Biden has a degree that Mr. Trump, removed from selling social distancing measures or lockdowns, was playing down the severity of the virus in early March. But whereas the presidential pulpit might need incentivized governors and mayors to behave faster, Mr. Trump lacks the authority to impose and implement quarantine and isolation measures in states and cities. (As early as mid-February, officers on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had spoken of the necessity to mitigate the unfold by means of social distancing and “nonpharmaceutical interventions at a community level.”)

Mr. Biden had warned in an op-ed in late January that the case quantity was more likely to develop. He additionally criticized Mr. Trump’s earlier proposals to chop funding to well being companies, promoted worldwide cooperation and vowed to “uphold science” and “harness expertise.” He made comparable factors in interviews, town hall events and debates in February, however he didn’t counsel locking down cities or limiting social gatherings. A marketing campaign spokesman argued that Mr. Biden’s urging Mr. Trump to “let the experts speak” included the well being officers’ suggestions of social distancing.

It was not till March 12, when Mr. Biden’s marketing campaign launched its plan to fight the coronavirus, that he urged the C.D.C. to offer extra readability in issuing steering on social distancing.

That was a day after Mr. Trump addressed the nation and promised tips on “school closures, social distancing and reducing large gatherings,” which were released on March 16.

What Mr. Biden Said

“Forty percent of the money that was supposed to go to small businesses did not go to small businesses. It went to large businesses.”
— in a town hall event in June

This is deceptive. Mr. Biden was referring to the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to cowl payroll prices.

Data through June 20 confirmed that the aid program had permitted greater than 4.6 million loans totaling $514.9 billion. Of these, loans of over $1 million represented 35.1 p.c of the funding and 1.7 p.c of the variety of loans. But mortgage dimension doesn’t immediately correlate to enterprise dimension.

While the time period “small business” might conjure up pictures of a regionally run mom-and-pop store, the federal government usually defines the time period as corporations with fewer than 500 staff, although that can vary across industries by common annual receipts and variety of staff.

Companies that meet the definition, in addition to some nonprofits and a few bigger meals and lodging companies, are all eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. Because of this expansive eligibility standards, some high-priced law firms, lobbying firms, private schools, luxury hotels and restaurant chains certified for and took out thousands and thousands of {dollars} in loans.

But of the tens of thousands of companies that obtained over $1 million in loans, many had been more likely to adhere to the colloquial understanding of a “small business” like a neighborhood craft brewery in Philadelphia, an artisanal cowboy boot firm in El Paso, an impartial bookstore in San Francisco and a family-owned third-generation florist in Boston.

Survey data additionally undercuts the suggestion that small companies had been crowded out by giant ones: about three-quarters of small companies had requested help from the lending program and about 72.Four p.c had obtained funding by means of June 27. Moreover, when this system first expired and earlier than it was prolonged on June 30, it had more than $130 billion nonetheless in its coffers.

What Mr. Biden Said

“Without a uniform plan and guidance from the federal government that state and local leaders can use to inform their reopening plans, this is going to continue to be worse than it would’ve been otherwise.”
— in remarks in July

This is exaggerated. Though they were nonbinding and criticized by some as vague, the White House did launch tips in mid-April about “opening up American again.”

The tips recommended states and regions meet sure standards — together with a “downward trajectory” of circumstances or optimistic charges for 14 days, rising testing and call tracing capability, and the power to“independently supply” private protecting tools and medical tools — earlier than they transfer by means of three phases of reopening.

Of the 30 states that had deliberate to begin reopening in early May, most had failed to fulfill these tips.

The Biden marketing campaign additionally pointed to reporting in May from The Associated Press that mentioned the Trump administration had suppressed detailed reopening steering from the C.D.C., however that steering was revised and eventually released later that month.

Mr. Biden is correct that messaging in regards to the tips has been removed from uniform. Officials within the Trump administration have stressed the importance of the guidelines, but in addition famous in latest weeks, whilst virus circumstances have been surging, that reopening plans and timelines had been as much as states. Mr. Trump himself has actively encouraged states to open despite the rules.

What Mr. Biden Said

“The N.A.A.C.P. has endorsed me every time I’ve run. I mean, come on, take a look at the record.”
— within the May interview on “The Breakfast Club”

False. As a tax-exempt nonprofit, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People can not and “does not endorse political candidates at any level,” the president and chief government of the group said in a statement.

Mr. Biden was imprecisely referring to the largely excessive marks he obtained from the N.A.A.C.P. in its voter data guides all through his profession, starting from 60 p.c in 1995 to 1996 to 100 p.c in three congressional phrases.

Mr. Biden later acknowledged that his declare was a “mistake” and mentioned that he had “overwhelming support from the African-American community my whole career.”

Based on scattered polling information all through Mr. Biden’s lengthy electoral historical past, his declare of “overwhelming support” from Black voters is usually true. The Wilmington News Journal reported that Mr. Biden gained 65 p.c of Black voters in 1972, his first Senate race. Polling in March 1984, earlier than his re-election bid, additionally confirmed him main his opponent amongst Black voters. More than 80 p.c of Black voters backed Mr. Biden in 1990 and 1996, and greater than 97 p.c in his final Senate race in 2008, in line with exit polling information offered by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. Black major voters in South Carolina powered him to a crucial victory this yr en path to securing the presidential nomination.

What Mr. Biden Said

“I’ve been against Keystone from the beginning.”
— in a May interview on CNBC

This is exaggerated. Whether Mr. Biden privately opposed the Keystone XL pipeline venture “from the beginning,” he not often spoke about it publicly as vp and didn’t actually stake out a place.

The pipeline, which might carry crude oil from Canada to Nebraska, was first proposed in the summertime of 2008 and attracted fierce opposition from environmental teams and others through the Obama administration.

A primary proposal for the pipeline was rejected by President Barack Obama in January 2012, reasoning {that a} deadline set by Congress didn’t go away his administration time to do an intensive environmental evaluation. Mr. Obama mentioned that the choice was “not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline,” and left the door open for a revised software.

Mr. Biden, responding to a question about Keystone on Twitter that month, mentioned a allow may “possibly” be revisited, however it could “need thorough study.”

In March of that yr, Mr. Obama voiced support for the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline from the Gulf of Mexico to Cushing, Okla. A month later, Mr. Biden was once more asked in an interview in regards to the preliminary rejection of all the pipeline.

“It hadn’t gone through the process,” he mentioned. “There is a process to make sure it can be environmentally sound.”

A yr later, an environmental activist wrote a weblog submit claiming that Mr. Biden had informed her he opposed the pipeline however mentioned “I am in the minority.” The vp’s workplace declined to confirm the account however famous that Mr. Biden had “made his views known on this issue and his views haven’t changed,” Politico reported.

Ben Casselman contributed reporting.

Curious in regards to the accuracy of a declare? Email factcheck@nytimes.com.

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