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President Donald Trump argued that the U.S. economy should reopen despite a recent spike in coronavirus cases across the country, repeating that the “cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

During the second and final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville on Oct. 22, Trump accused his opponent of wanting to shut the country down, but former Vice President Joe Biden said this simply wasn’t true. “We ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” Biden said, noting that businesses should be equipped with the resources to ensure social distancing and other measures to prevent COVID-19 should they reopen. Trump decried the state of New York City during the pandemic, saying it had become a “ghost town” and that businesses were dying. But Biden argued that New York City has been able to bring down its coronavirus rates because of these lockdown measures.

As of the end of September the unemployment rate in New York City was 16 percent, and the tourism, retail and culture sectors had been particularly hard hit by shutdowns. The closures did initially help bring down New York City’s high number of virus cases, but last month the city reported its highest daily case rate since June. “Look at the states that are having such a spike in the coronavirus. They’re the red states,” Biden said. Several rural and reliably Republican states, such as North Dakota, are currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. But cases are also going up in blue states such as Massachusetts. Trump said that even in states that have imposed strict COVID-19 lockdowns, there have been high case numbers, noting that an estimated 11,000 people died from the virus in New York nursing homes and cases in North Carolina and Pennsylvania are still on the rise.

Trump also claimed that the U.S. has the “best testing in the world by far,” a statement that has been repeatedly disputed by experts who have noted America’s per-capita testing rate is nowhere near that of countries such as South Korea.

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