White House contenders slam Trump handling of coronavirus crisis

accreditation

Democratic White House hopefuls Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders assailed Donald Trump on Thursday for shortcomings in fighting the coronavirus outbreak, calling for urgent action to help Americans struggling to pay for health care.

Public health experts have rebuked authorities for downplaying the pandemic, and lagging far behind other hard-hit countries in rolling out testing for the virus.

"The administration's failure on testing is colossal, and it's a failure of planning, leadership, and execution," the former vice president said in a searing critique of Trump's handling of a crisis that has claimed 38 lives in the United States.

"Anyone who needs to be tested based on medical guidance should be tested at no charge," added Biden, who rolled out his own plan for combating the outbreak and said Trump was welcome to "adopt all of it" immediately.

Biden, 77, is in a heated race for the Democratic presidential nomination against his 78-year-old rival Sanders.

Both candidates have cancelled recent campaign rallies ahead of the next round of Democratic primaries Tuesday in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio.

The Sanders campaign has "asked all staff to work from home, and will no longer hold large events or door-to-door canvasses, instead moving to digital formats and outreach wherever possible," it said in a statement retweeted by communications director Mike Casca.

Sanders, in his own Thursday address, warned of casualties and economic chaos on a potentially massive scale.

"In terms of potential deaths and the impact on our economy, the crisis we face from coronavirus is on the scale of a major war, and we must act accordingly," said the leftist senator from Vermont, who trails Biden in the Democratic nomination race.

"Unfortunately, in this time of international crisis, it is clear to me at least that we have an administration that is largely incompetent, and whose incompetence and recklessness have threatened the lives of many, many people in our country," he added.

Biden and Sanders face off in a debate on Sunday. Democratic officials announced they were shifting the venue from Arizona to Washington over coronavirus fears.

While Biden unveiled a multi-pronged approach to tackling the crisis including "immediate bold measures" to help Americans hurting economically, Sanders called on government to take emergency steps including placing an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and utility shut-offs.

Democrats said they were negotiating with Trump's administration over a bill that would provide free coronavirus testing nationwide, paid sick leave, and extended protections for furloughed workers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, I believed it was authentic
7% - 212 votes
Yes, I didn't want to spend that much money on the original item
20% - 632 votes
No, I always shop at reputable stores
14% - 433 votes
No, I don't wear designer clothing
60% - 1882 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.92
-1.1%
Rand - Pound
20.40
+0.2%
Rand - Euro
17.48
+0.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.83
+0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.2%
Gold
1,750.56
0.0%
Silver
22.43
0.0%
Palladium
1,974.50
0.0%
Platinum
987.00
0.0%
Brent Crude
78.09
+1.1%
Top 40
57,643
0.0%
All Share
64,049
0.0%
Resource 10
57,254
0.0%
Industrial 25
82,879
0.0%
Financial 15
14,316
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE