Hours before President Trump was set to unveil new federal guidelines to kick start the reopening of the nation’s economy shut by the coronavirus pandemic, the president’s Democratic challenger in November’s election cautioned that “we should not send you back to work till it’s safe to send you back.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden – in an appearance Thursday on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC – emphasized that “the way you revive the economy is you defeat the disease, you defeat the disease. And we have to get, we have to get a number of new cases down where they are significantly down from where they are now. Social distancing is going to have to continue.”
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Biden argued that choosing between economic and health concerns “is a false choice.”
Taking a jab at the president, Biden said the “we have to have widespread testing available” before lifting social distancing restrictions implemented to lower transmission of the deadly COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus. Critics have repeatedly slammed Trump and his administration for a lack of widespread testing across the country.
With many health leaders warning that a relaxing of social distancing could spark a new wave or outbreak, Biden stressed that “the idea this isn’t going to flare up is just preposterous. It’s going to come back in some form or another. We have to be prepared.”
The president on Thursday is expected to showcase new guidelines telling governors that they can lift their “stay-at-home” orders and ease social distancing.
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At Wednesday’s White House briefing on the pandemic, Trump cited promising developments in the fight against the outbreak.
“These encouraging developments have put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country, which we’ll be announcing. We’re going to be talking about that tomorrow,” the president noted. “It’s very exciting.”
But after saying earlier this week that he has “absolute authority” to lift restrictions as a first step in jumpstarting the economy, Trump’s acknowledged that the final decisions on when to lift restrictions lay with the governors.
The president’s daily appearances at the White House briefings are televised live by all three national cable news networks. Trump, while touting the latest actions by the administration and federal government, has also tangled with reporters at the briefings, calling questions he doesn’t like “nasty.” And he’s at times slammed Democratic governors who’ve criticized the federal government’s response to the crisis.
Asked about those briefings, Biden painted the president as a narcissist.
“Trying to figure out this man is sort of above my pay grade, it seems to always be about him,” the former vice president said. “Everything is about him.”
Fox News’ Madeleine Rivera contributed to this report.