Joe Biden Says Trump Hasn't Provided an Answer on How to Safely Reopen America, Unveils His Own Plan

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden has strongly criticized President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, while laying out his own plan to respond to the ongoing crisis.

In an opinion article published by The New York Times Sunday, Biden, who served as vice president under former President Barack Obama and is now the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge Trump in November, argued that the president's response to the pandemic had "led to catastrophic results." He also presented his thoughts on the best path forward to deal with the fallout moving forward.

Newsweek has reached out to the White House for a response to Biden's criticism, but the administration had not responded by the time of publication.

Biden wrote that the Trump administration "hasn't supplied an answer" as to how the U.S. can move toward safely reopening the economy. He also noted that the economic concerns and health concerns were interconnected, not separate, as some on the right have suggested.

"Make no mistake: An effective plan to beat the virus is the ultimate answer to how we get our economy back on track," the former vice president explained. "So we should stop thinking of the health and economic responses as separate. They are not."

Joe Biden
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is seen on stage at 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, D.C. on March 15 MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

The Democratic contender called for three broad actions. He wrote that stringent social distancing measures needed to continue until the number of new cases declined significantly; that testing needed to be much more widespread along with contact tracing; and that "effective disease surveillance" would be required to prepare the health care sector for future flare ups.

"Once we have taken these steps, we can begin to reopen more businesses and put more people back to work. Things will not go back to 'normal' right away," Biden noted. "As public health experts have said, we should expect activity to return gradually, with sites like offices and stores reopening before arenas and theaters," he added.

The U.S. has by far the highest number of confirmed cases of coronavirus of any country in the world. As of Sunday, there were over 530,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University. Of those, more than 20,600 have died while over 32,100 have already recovered.

Trump and his administration have faced significant criticism from health experts for their slow response to mitigating the spread of the virus. A lengthy report published by The New York Times on Saturday outlined how the president had ignored repeated warnings from intelligence officials and top advisers as the coronavirus began to spread globally. Trump appeared to be more concerned about the economy as well as messaging than actually clamping down on mitigating the outbreak's spread.

While Trump has since taken a more somber tone in addressing the crisis, he repeatedly referred to the coronavirus criticism as a "new hoax" from the Democrats. He also downplayed the threat posed by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, by comparing it to the common flu--despite health experts estimating that the novel virus is at least 10 to 20 times more deadly.

Critics have noted that South Korea, which had its first confirmed case of coronavirus at the same time as the U.S., was quick to mitigate the fallout by rapidly rolling out testing and tracing. As of Sunday morning, South Korea had only just over 10,500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 214 deaths. The East Asian nation was also able to avoid the stringent social distancing measures implemented across the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S. has struggled to meet testing targets and has been unable to adequately trace the virus' spread.

"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 in his opinion article. "We cannot repeat those mistakes."