Mar 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden and Sanders outline coronavirus plans of attack

Biden and Sanders on the debate stage.
Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Both former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke on Thursday to address Americans and weigh in on the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture, via Axios' Margaret Talev: Biden and Sanders are looking to establish their own credentials for crisis management as they compete for the nomination to challenge President Trump in November. But they're also part of a broader pushback against the administration's coronavirus response, which has been criticized for being too slow, not aggressive enough in terms of testing and containment, and undercut by Trump's own rhetoric.

  • Biden's campaign announced work-from-home rules and plans to close some field offices to the public starting Saturday, according to an internal campaign memo.
  • Sanders' campaign has asked all staff to work from home and says they will focus on digital outreach rather than large events or door knocking.

What they're saying: Biden proposed a three-pronged solution, including...

  • Deploying mobile testing sites, with at least 10 per state and drive-through testing centers.
  • Preparing hospitals with ample testing kits, staff and materials, including utilizing resources from FEMA and the Department of Defense.
  • Accelerating the development of a vaccine and treatments, and ensuring that the vaccine is free when completed.

Biden said of his plan: "I offer it as a roadmap, not for what I will do as president 10 months from now, but for the leadership I believe is required right now, in this moment. President Trump is welcome to adopt it today."

Sanders offered his own proposal, urging Trump to declare a state of emergency, to "convene an emergency bipartisan authority of experts to support and direct the response," provide ample support staff and experts, and create hotlines for coronavirus concerns.

  • "In terms of potential deaths, in terms of the economic impact on our economy the crisis we face from the coronavirus is on the scale of major war and we must act accordingly."
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