APRIL 12, 2020
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, on Sunday unveiled a plan to “safely reopen” the United States, emphasizing that widespread testing availability and a drastic drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases must take precedent before the country takes such a step.
In a New York Times op-ed, Biden wrote that the U.S. must first acknowledge the Trump administration’s failure in its response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” the former vice president said. “We cannot repeat those mistakes.”
Biden’s plan to reopen the U.S. calls for keeping social-distancing restrictions in place until the U.S. begins seeing a significant drop in reported COVID-19 cases. He said that any efforts to reopen businesses should also come after the U.S. establishes “widespread, easily available and prompt testing,” as well as contact tracing programs that protect individual privacy.
In addition, Biden wrote that hospitals and health care providers must be adequately prepared for the virus to reemerge later in the year once economic activity restarts. Hospitals need the staff and equipment necessary and public health officials must conduct proper disease surveillance, Biden said.
He reiterated his calls for Trump to make greater use of the Defense Production Act to help support hospitals in need of medical equipment such as ventilators, which provide oxygen to severely ill patients. He also pushed for convening experts in private industries to generate ideas on “how to operate more safely.”
“Make no mistake: An effective plan to beat the virus is the ultimate answer to how we get our economy back on track,” Biden wrote. “So we should stop thinking of the health and economic responses as separate. They are not.”
The U.S. has reported more than 530,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and roughly 20,600 deaths caused by it, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. The outbreak has led dozens of states and cities to enforce stay-at-home orders, causing a mass closure of non-essential businesses. The measures have helped lead to an astronomical rise in unemployment claims.
Speaking during a White House briefing on Friday, Trump said that he wanted to open the economy as soon as possible. He also announced that he is forming a “Opening Our Country Council” designed to guide efforts to open the economy.
Health experts insist that the country must rapidly expand testing and contact-tracing before reopening the economy. They’ve also noted that a gradual rollback of physical-distancing restrictions will be more effective than an abrupt end to the measures.
Biden has repeatedly decried Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. He said last month that the president should stop talking and let experts like Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, handle the crisis.
Earlier this month, Biden spoke on the phone with Trump about the administration’s response in what Trump described as a “warm” and “friendly” conversation. The president said that he and Biden had agreed not to speak publicly about the details of the discussion.
Courtesy/Source: The Hill