Former Vice President Joe Biden slammed President Donald Trump over the president’s declaration he wants to restart the economy in a matter of weeks —over objections from health experts — advising Trump to “just stop talking.”
In a series of cable news hits Tuesday afternoon from a makeshift studio in his Delaware home’s basement, Biden, who appears likely to become the Democratic nominee for president, repeatedly implored his would-be rival to heed the advice of his coronavirus task force and keep social distancing efforts in place to “flatten the curve” of individuals infected by the virus.
“I would like to open the government tomorrow if it were possible,” Biden said in an interview on MSNBC. But, he continued, “Let’s be realistic. This curve is going up and up and up because we did not act when we should have acted.”
Medical experts are in agreement that social isolation is critical to preventing further spread of the virus, which has infected more than 50,000 people in the U.S. and killed more than 600. Nearly every state has issued some combination of orders to close down schools and non-essential businesses or directed residents to shelter in place.
Trump has recently become impatient with the federal guidance for Americans to hunker down, citing the dire impact on the economy. But epidemiologists have warned that it’s still too soon to allow parts of the country to return to business as usual, arguing that if there’s a resurgence of infections it could cause even greater economic damage.
On Tuesday, an alternately heated and emotional Biden contended that if Trump wants to get the economy moving again by loosing the guidance, he will do so at his own risk. “If you want to ruin the economy for a long, long, long time let’s go ahead and see this thing continue by having it burst out again and so we haven’t even flattened the curve out,” Biden said.
“I know you know this,” he told MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace. “I apologize but it’s frustrating to hear this president speak. He should stop talking. Let the experts speak.”
Trump has come under fire more than once during the coronavirus crisis for getting out in front of his scientific experts, hyping unproven drugs as potential miracle cures and understating the speed at which a vaccine will become available — and then being gently corrected by the members of his coronavirus task force.
Biden applauded the health experts Trump has surrounded himself with — notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Trump, he said, should heed their recommendations when deciding when to loosen social distancing guidance — something the president refused to commit to doing in a press briefing the night before.
“Listen to Dr. Fauci. [Trump]’s not a scientist. Let the scientists speak. Let them lay out the facts as they know them,” Biden urged Trump. “Let’s lay out what happened in other countries as we know it. This is not unique to the United States of America.”
The former vice president also called on Trump to act like the “wartime president” he has declared himself to be, asking Trump to summon the full power of the Defense Production Act so that the federal government can direct manufacturers to begin making the medical supplies hospitals are now scrounging to acquire.
Biden stressed that he realized the outbreak, which originated in China, was not the president’s fault, but he argued that Trump had wasted valuable time downplaying the virus when he could have been preparing for it to inevitably his the U.S.
While Trump has frequently boasted about various travel bans he put in place to prevent foreigners from bringing the virus in with them, his administration has been under fire for its stumbles in providing access to widespread testing materials for the illness and a reluctance to address a patchwork of social distancing restrictions from state to state.
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