Biden outlines plan to ‘safely reopen’ U.S.; slams Trump’s initial response to coronavirus
Former Vice President Joe Biden laid out his plan on Sunday for reopening the country in an op-ed for the New York Times in which he argued that beating “the virus is the ultimate answer to how we get our economy back on track,” while bashing the Trump administration’s initial, sluggish response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Biden, who last week became the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race, argued in his piece that the public health crisis and the economic crisis are the same and slammed the Trump administration for failing to speedily respond to the crisis.
“As we prepare to reopen America, we have to remember what this crisis has taught us: The administration’s failure to plan, to prepare, to honestly assess and communicate the threat to the nation led to catastrophic results,” Biden wrote. “We cannot repeat those mistakes.”
Biden argued for the need to keep up social distancing guidelines until the U.S. sees a dramatic decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases. He added that hospitals and health care workers need to be prepared with the proper supplies in case the virus reemerges later this year or sometime in the future before a vaccine is available.
The former vice president said that the only way to safely reopen businesses across the country is to establish widespread testing and contact tracing programs that protect individual privacy, while also echoing many governors’ calls to Trump to more freely use the Defense Production Act to speed up the fabrication of ventilators and personal protective equipment.
Biden noted that a recent Department of Health and Human Services report on testing for this virus “made clear” that the country is far from achieving the goal of being able to rapidly and widely test for the contagion.
“We should be running multiple times the number of diagnostic tests we’re performing right now. And we should be ready to scale up a second form of testing: rapid serology tests to tell who has already been infected with the coronavirus and has antibodies,” Biden wrote. “This isn’t rocket science; it’s about investment and execution. We are now several months into this crisis, and still this administration has not squarely faced up to the “original sin” in its failed response — the failure to test.”
Biden’s plan comes just two days after President Trump announced that he was forming a second coronavirus task force to explore ways to, at least partly, reopen the economy. Since the start of the outbreak in the U.S. and the implementation of social distancing guidelines, the economy has gone into a tail slide and more 16 million Americans have lost their jobs.
Biden argued that separating the response to the virus and the economy is not the way to tackle either crisis.
“Make no mistake: An effective plan to beat the virus is the ultimate answer to how we get our economy back on track,” he wrote. “So we should stop thinking of the health and economic responses as separate. They are not.”