Former Vice President Joe Biden tore into President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic during Tuesday night’s debate, ticking off a laundry list of some of Trump’s most alarming comments during the public health crisis.
“This is the same man that told you by Easter this would be gone away, by the warm weather it’d be gone, miraculously, like a miracle,” Biden said. “And by the way, maybe you can inject some bleach in your arm and that would take care of it.”
The mention of the bleach comment, one of Trump’s most problematic moments of the pandemic, made Trump try to cut Biden off and declare, “That was said sarcastically.”
On April 23, Trump jumped on an “emerging result” from his own Department of Homeland Security and started spitballing dangerous possible virus treatments that frightened health experts, with one such idea in that briefing including disinfectants.
“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks [the virus] out [from a surface] in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that [by] injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets on the lungs and it does a tremendous number,” Trump said during the April 23 briefing.
During the coronavirus-focused portion of the debate, Biden consistently slammed Trump for not having a plan as the coronavirus pandemic rages on and the nation’s death toll climbs past 200,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Trump also declared he wants to keep the country open as he keeps up a far more optimistic view of the nation’s fight against the virus. The president was emphatic again about a quick timeline for getting a coronavirus vaccine, saying during the debate “you’ll have the vaccine soon.” But earlier this month, when CDC Director Robert Redfield told lawmakers that he thought a vaccine wouldn’t be “generally available to the American public” until “late second quarter, third quarter of 2021,” Trump lashed out at the leading medical official and said Redfield was “confused.”
During the debate, Biden followed the president’s vaccine comments with another attack, saying, “Do you believe for a moment what he’s telling you in light of all the lies he’s told you about the whole issue relating to COVID?”
“He still hasn't even acknowledged that he knew this was happening, knew how dangerous it was going to be back in February and he didn’t even tell you, he’s on record as saying it, he panicked or he just looked at the stock market, one of the two," Biden said. “Because guess what, a lot of people died and a lot more are going to die unless he gets a lot smarter a lot quicker.”
Trump then attacked the former vice president for his choice of using the word “smart” and attacked Biden’s intelligence before championing his own handling of the virus, as the president has done emphatically when he focuses his words on the public health crisis.
On the topic of masks, Trump also once again undercut his own administration’s messaging on the crucial public health measure. Trump said he wears a mask when he thinks he needs it, and then criticized Biden for wearing “the biggest mask I’ve ever seen” during public appearances.
As Biden pointed to Redfield, whom Biden emphasized had “said if... everybody wore masks and social distanced between now and January, we’d probably save up to 100,000 lives,” Trump declared, “They’ve also said the opposite.”
“No serious person’s said the opposite,” Biden responded.
And then Trump proceeded to call out Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whom the president has been more willing to criticize at this stage of the pandemic, despite Fauci being widely seen as one of the more trustworthy public health voices coming from Trump’s administration.
“Dr. Fauci, Dr. Fauci said… he said very strongly that masks are not good,” Trump said. ”Then he changed his mind, he said, ‘Masks good.’”