Sanders: First coronavirus priority is to 'shut this president up'

Bernie Sanders said during Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate that his first priority in the fight against coronavirus is to rebut any misinformation coming from President Trump.

“The first thing we’ve got to do, whether or not I’m president, is to shut this president up right now,” Sanders said from CNN’s studios in Washington, DC. “Because he is undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people. it is unacceptable for him to be blabbering with unfactual information which his confusing the general public.”

Sanders also said that the coronavirus crisis facing America showed the need for Medicare for All, his signature proposal, which would move Americans to a government-run healthcare system.

“Let’s be honest and understand that this coronavirus pandemic exposes the incredible weakness and dysfunctionality of our current healthcare system. Now we’re spending twice the amount on healthcare as any other country. How in God’s name does it happen that we end up with 87 million people who are uninsured or are underinsured and there are people who are watching this program tonight and say, ‘I’m not feeling well. Should I go to the doctor? I can’t afford to go to the doctor.’”

Joe Biden also took shots at the Trump administration’s response to the crisis

“The World Health Organization offered, offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them,” Biden said.

But then Biden pivoted, and launched the first attack of the night at his rival for the Democratic nomination, painting Medicare for All as beside the point when dealing with a public health crisis like the coronavirus.

“With all due respect to Medicare for All, you have a single payer system in Italy,” Biden said. “It doesn’t work there. It has nothing to do with Medicare for All. That would not solve the problem at all. We can take care of that right now by making sure that no one has to pay for treatment, period, because of the crisis. No one has to pay for whatever drugs are needed, period, because of the crisis. No one has to pay for hospitalization because of the crisis, period. That is a national emergency and that’s how it’s handled.”

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Democratic primaries on March 10, 2020
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Democratic primaries on March 10, 2020
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., visits custodian Davonta Bynes, from left, principal DaRhonda Evans-Stewart and social worker Kim Little outside a polling location at Warren E. Bow Elementary School in Detroit, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., visits outside a polling location at Warren E. Bow Elementary School in Detroit, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Voters leave a polling location at Bow Elementary in Detroit, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Voters arrive with masks in light of the coronavirus COVID-19 health concern at Warren E. Bow Elementary School in Detroit, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., visits outside a polling location at Warren E. Bow Elementary School in Detroit, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Voters mark their ballots at the Lauderdale County courthouse annex in Meridian Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star via AP)
Amour Fowler, a Jackson, Miss., precinct poll manager delivers a ballot to a curbside voter in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mississippi is one of several states holding presidential party primaries today. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A voter walks into a Jackson, Miss., precinct, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mississippi is one of several states holding presidential party primaries today. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Bernell Jeuitt uses a special ballot reading machine for visually or hearing impaired or handicapped voters in a Jackson, Miss., precinct, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mississippi is one of several states holding party primaries today. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Voters work on their ballots in the kiosks in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mississippi is one of several states holding presidential party primaries today. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A Democratic presidential primary ballot sits next to a roll of "I Voted" stickers in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mississippi is one of several states holding presidential party primaries today. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A voter takes advantage of the hand sanitizer to "clean up" after voting in the presidential party primary in Ridgeland, Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Polling locations are providing hand sanitizers for voters to use as a cautionary measure in light of the coronavirus health concern nationwide. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A voter accepts an "I Voted" sticker from Ridgeland, Miss., precinct worker Cliff Smith, right, as she exits after voting in the party presidential primary, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Wearing gloves, a King County Election worker collect ballots from a drop box in the Washington State primary, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Seattle. Washington is a vote by mail state. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
King County Election workers collect ballots from a drop box in the Washington State primary, Tuesday, March 10, 2020 in Seattle. Washington is a vote by mail state. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Voters drop off ballots in the Washington State primary, Tuesday, March 10, 2020 in Seattle. Washington is a vote by mail state. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
A sign restricting visitors is displayed on the door at the Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Issaquah, east of Seattle, the site of the latest death from the new coronavirus in Washington state on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Tuesday, announced that five residents and two staff have tested positive for the new coronavirus. They said a resident also died over the weekend. (AP Photo/Martha Bellisle)
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Later in the debate, both Biden and Sanders were in agreement on the additional precautions they were each taking on the campaign trail. Both said they were hosting “virtual” events with supporters, asked their respective staffs to work from home, and were being personally careful with their hygiene.

“I’m very careful about the people I’m interacting with. I’m using a lot of soap and hand sanitizers,” Sanders said.

“I wash my hands god knows how many times a day with hot water and soap,” Biden said. “I make sure I don’t touch my face, and so on,” he added.

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