President Donald Trump has urged states to shun lockdowns as his Democratic rival Joe Biden said the pandemic could not be stopped by “flipping a switch”.
Continuing a whirlwind schedule of rallies in battleground states, Mr Trump also mocked mask mandates.
Mr Biden said Mr Trump’s handling of America’s worsening coronavirus crisis was an “insult” to its victims.
The Democrat has a solid national lead over the Republican president six days before the 3 November election.
But Mr Biden’s advantage is narrower in the handful of US states that could vote either way and ultimately decide who wins the White House.
he two presidential rivals’ divisions over the coronavirus were on stark display once again on Wednesday.
Speaking from his home of Wilmington, Delaware, Democrat Joe Biden said he would not campaign “on the false promises of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch”.
Mr Biden – who has not ruled out further lockdowns – pledged instead to “let science drive our decisions”.
“Even if I win, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic,” he said. “I do promise this: We will start on day one doing the right things.”
He also railed against Mr Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in the midst of a pandemic.
The Democrat and his wife Jill Biden cast their early ballots soon afterwards. Mr Trump voted early on Saturday in Florida.
At a rally in Goodyear, Arizona, Mr Trump warned that a Biden presidency would lead to more lockdowns and economic misery for Americans.
“If you vote for Joe Biden it means no kids in school, no graduations, no weddings, no thanksgivings, no Christmas, and no Fourth of July together.
“Other than that you’ll have a wonderful life. Can’t see anybody, but that’s alright.”
He cast the election as “a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression”.
At an earlier rally in Bullhead City, also in Arizona, a state where looser rules on social distancing make staging crowded events easier, Mr Trump poked fun at mask mandates in Democratic-run states.