Coronavirus questions lead off the Joe Biden-Bernie Sanders Democratic debate

Election 2020 Debate
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington on Sunday.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The coronavirus outbreak is dominating the Democratic presidential debate between Sen Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Moderators led off Sunday with questions about the pandemic and how the candidates would respond to the spread of the coronavirus.

Before laying out his plans, Sanders pointed to President Trump. The most important thing, the senator said, was to “shut this president up right now,” saying Trump is undermining medical experts trying to guide the public.

“It is unacceptable for him to be blabbering with unfactual information.”


Sanders said he would always defend his “Medicare for all” proposal for government-provided health insurance, he supports an incremental step for the government to more immediately promise that all testing and treatment costs related to COVID-19 would come free of cost to infected patients.

“If you have the virus, that will be paid for,” Sanders said. “Do not worry about the cost right now, because we are in the middle of a national emergency.”

That’s a position Biden agreed with. During a national emergency, treatment should be “all free, you don’t have to pay for a thing,” Biden said. “We’re at war with the virus.”

But Biden criticized Sanders’ plan for a single-payer system, pointing out that Italy’s has not saved that nation from being throttled by the virus.


Election 2020 Debate
Vice President Joe Biden, participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios, in Washington.
(Evan Vucci/AP)

“It is not working in Italy right now, and they have a single-payer system,” Biden said.

Biden accused Sanders of framing the crisis falsely, saying that that all of the care required by those impacted by the coronavirus will be paid by the federal government, pointing to a bill passed by the House of Representatives on Saturday that would provide free testing, paid sick leave and paid family leave.

“This has nothing to do with co-pays.”

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