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Bernie Sanders said during Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate that his first priority in the fight against coronavirus is to rebut any misinformation coming from President Trump.
“The first thing we’ve got to do, whether or not I’m president, is to shut this president up right now,” Sanders said from CNN’s studios in Washington, D.C. “Because he is undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people. It is unacceptable for him to be blabbering with unfactual information which is confusing the general public.”
Sanders also said that the coronavirus crisis facing the United States showed the need for Medicare for All, his signature proposal, which would move Americans to a government-run health care system.
“Let’s be honest and understand that this coronavirus pandemic exposes the incredible weakness and dysfunctionality of our current health care system. Now we’re spending twice the amount on health care as any other country. How in God’s name does it happen that we end up with 87 million people who are uninsured or are underinsured. And there are people who are watching this program tonight and say, ‘I’m not feeling well. Should I go to the doctor? I can’t afford to go to the doctor.’”
Joe Biden also took shots at the Trump administration’s response to the crisis.
“The World Health Organization offered, offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them,” Biden said.
But then Biden pivoted and launched the first attack of the night at his rival for the Democratic nomination, painting Medicare for All as irrelevant when dealing with a public health crisis like the coronavirus.
“With all due respect to Medicare for All, you have a single payer system in Italy,” Biden said. “It doesn’t work there. It has nothing to do with Medicare for All. That would not solve the problem at all. We can take care of that right now by making sure that no one has to pay for treatment, period, because of the crisis. No one has to pay for whatever drugs are needed, period, because of the crisis. No one has to pay for hospitalization because of the crisis, period. That is a national emergency, and that’s how it’s handled.”
Later in the debate, both Biden and Sanders were in agreement about the additional precautions they were each taking on the campaign trail. Both said they were hosting “virtual” events with supporters, had asked their respective staffs to work from home, and were being personally careful with their hygiene.
“I’m very careful about the people I’m interacting with. I’m using a lot of soap and hand sanitizers,” Sanders said.
“I wash my hands God knows how many times a day with hot water and soap,” Biden said. “I make sure I don’t touch my face, and so on,” he added.
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