Health

Democratic Candidates Slam Trump on Coronavirus Response

The Democratic presidential candidates weighed in on how President Trump has responded to the threat of the disease.

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After U.S. officials said the new, deadly strain of coronavirus could likely spread in the U.S., the Democratic presidential candidates weighed in on how President Trump has responded to the disease.

The Trump administration asked Congress on Monday to allocate $1.25 billion in emergency funds to prepare its response. But at the same time, the administration has also been under fire for proposing deep cuts to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its 2021 budget last month — two years after the CDC already slashed its efforts to prevent global disease outbreak due to lack of funding. 

One day later, onstage at the tenth Democratic debate in South Carolina, Trump became a target. 

Former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, who isn’t even on the ballot in South Carolina, weighed in to criticize Trump’s response. 

“There's no one here to figure out what the hell we should be doing,” Bloomberg said. “We don't have the organization that we need.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) took the opportunity to promote the CDC’s website, instead of her own campaign website as former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg had done earlier.

"I want to take this out of politics right now and talk to the American people because this is so serious," Klobuchar said. "I'm not going to give my website right now. I'm going to give the CDC's website... Because many doctors are saying it's just a matter of time before we're going to start seeing this here."

Former Vice President Joe Biden brought up his response to Ebola — the virus that became an epidemic in West Africa from 2013 to 2016. 

“What I would do is restore the funding — he [Trump] cut the funding for CDC,” Biden said. “Here's the deal, I’d be on the phone with China making it clear we are going to need to be in your country, you have to be open...we have to know what’s going on, insist, insist, insist.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) then scoffed at Trump’s comment that he’s a “self-described ‘great genius’” and “great scientist” who has implied the disease would disappear on “a magical day” in April. “I wish I were kidding. That is what he said,” Sanders continued, before also talking about fully funding the CDC and working with the World Health Organization.
 
While Sen. Elizabeth Warren did not get to answer the question at the debate, she has previously criticized Trump’s “absolutely bungling” response to the disease. She also released a plan three weeks ago on how to deal with infectious diseases like the coronavirus.
 

The novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, and has been spreading globally

According to the CDC, there are currently 14 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., in addition to 39 cases of repatriated U.S. citizens from China or the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan. But health officials expect the spread to continue. 

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, this week, “but a question of when this will happen.”