(NEW YORK) — As the health threat and economic repercussions of coronavirus loom large, Democratic presidential candidates are unanimously condemning the Trump administration’s handling of the outbreak.
In turn, President Donald Trump has accused the Democrats of “politicizing” the issue, characterizing it as “their new hoax.”
According to the World Health Organization, there are nearly 90,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide. The U.S. has confirmed at least 108 cases of the virus, including several “community-acquired” cases in which the individuals had no known exposure to the COVID-19 virus through travel or close contact with an infected individual.
Here’s how the Democratic candidates have responded so far:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Although every Democratic presidential contender has attacked the administration for its response, only two candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren , D-Mass., and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have offered formal plans to combat health crises, including COVID-19.
Warren rolled out her plan on infectious diseases with an eye towards coronavirus back in January, and in a story exclusive to the Huffington Post, Warren announced her plan for federal action to combat coronavirus on Monday.
However, unlike many of the other plans released by the senator during her run for the presidency, the new proposal will outline a series of steps she believes Congress and Trump must take in order to “contain the outbreak, to help those affected by it, and to stop the economy from falling into a recession.”
The senator’s proposal would include free tests and treatments for all of those in need and paid leave for individuals sick with the virus or for those who are forced to miss work to care for relatives. She also suggests $400 billion in new government spending to prop up the economy.
The plan comes in addition to legislation the senator released Thursday seeking to defund the president’s border wall and instead use the funds to combat coronavirus.
“Rather than use taxpayer dollars to pay for a monument to hate and division, my bill will help ensure that the federal government has the resources it needs to adequately respond to this emergency,” Warren wrote.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg
On Wednesday, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a public health preparedness plan that is designed to “prepare hospitals for pandemics, fully fund federal government preparedness efforts, and invest in scientific research that enables resilience to emerging public health threats.”
Actions proposed in Bloomberg’s broader health plan include national emergency training for hospital staff, additional funding to the CDC Center for Preparedness and Response, the reestablishment of the NSC’s Office of Global Health Security in order to prioritize international preparedness, and an investment in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to fund the development of vaccines.
The former mayor also released a campaign ad on Thursday, called “Pandemic,” hitting the president for his “reckless” choice to cut funding to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and “senseless elimination of protective measures put in place following the pandemic Ebola virus outbreak.”
During Bloomberg’s appearance on CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday, the former mayor and the president had a spat on Twitter, fueling their growing social media feud.
In response to the president’s tweet criticizing his work as New York City mayor, Bloomberg went after Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, writing, “Why don’t you spend 60 minutes getting up to speed on the coronavirus crisis you’re mismanaging?”
In the interview, Bloomberg said that instead of cutting funding to the National Institute of Health, he would have raised it.
“We have to prepare for the fact that, if it is, we have the medicines and the structure and the knowledge to deal with it,” he said.
“This is up to the scientists and the doctors as to whether there is a problem,” Bloomberg said. “And it is just ignorant and irresponsible to not stand up and be the leader and say, ‘We don’t know, but we have to prepare for the fact that, if it is, we have the medicines and the structure and the knowledge to deal with it."”
Former Vice President Joe Biden
On Sunday, former Vice President Joe Biden appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos and blasted the president’s remarks.
“This is not a Democratic hoax. This is incompetence on the part of the President of the United States at the expense of the country and the world,” Biden told Stephanopoulos.
Biden compared the Trump’s administration’s response to the coronavirus to the Obama administration’s response to Ebola, citing the efforts he helped put in place to fight the outbreak in West Africa.
“I see no preparedness other than a political talking point, putting someone in charge who is not a scientist and not — and muzzling the scientist,” Biden said.
“We knew this was coming … back as far as January,” Biden said on Sunday during his appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. “They didn’t even begin to prepare the testing kits … That is kind of elementary.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
During an event in St. George, South Carolina, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., slammed Trump for campaigning as the coronavirus spreads across the country and world.
“Everybody knows there is a coronavirus spreading all over the world. Very frightening, stock market is tanking,” Sanders said. “You would think that you’d have a president of the United States leading — working with scientists all over the world, bringing people together to figure out how we’re gonna deal with this crisis.”
Calling Trump “pathetic” and “petty”, Sanders stated that instead of staying in Washington, D.C., and addressing the issue, as he believes a president should, Trump was traveling to rallies to disrupt Democratic primaries.
“Hey Mr. Trump, why don’t you worry about the coronavirus rather than disrupting the democratic primary right here in South Carolina?” Sanders said to the crowd.
Sanders said the administration’s response is “inadequate and incompetent,” reiterating his deep belief that health care is a human right and pointing to his Medicare for All plan as a source of support during such health crises.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, has also called for the suspension of flights from Japan and South Korea to Hawaii, citing the safety of the community.
“It is irresponsible for our leaders to endanger the health and wellbeing of Hawai’i’s people by continuing to allow travel from Japan and South Korea,” she said in a statement. “I know there will be economic hardship, but it will pale in comparison to the cost in lives and economic damage to Hawai’i and our country if we don’t suspend travel from these countries.”
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