After former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday morning declined to address or answer questions about the coronavirus during an event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sen. Bernie Sanders urged the public to tune in to a COVID-19 roundtable discussion the senator is hosting Monday afternoon in Detroit alongside nurses, physicians, and other medical professionals.
"This crisis is another clear example of why we must guarantee healthcare as a right for every single man, woman, and child in this country."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
Biden told reporters during a press conference at Cherry Health clinic that he would "be happy to talk about that later," referring to the coronavirus outbreak that has spread to 34 states and killed 22 people in the U.S.
"You can join our coronavirus roundtable in Detroit with public health officials live at 3:15 [pm] ET," Sanders tweeted in response to Biden's remarks, which came on the eve of Michigan's Democratic presidential primary.
Watch the roundtable discussion, which will feature National Nurses United president Deborah Burger, RN; former Detroit health commissioner Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, and other experts:
In an email to supporters on Monday, Sanders took aim at both the incompetence of President Donald Trump's administration and "our current dysfunctional healthcare system," which the senator said is "vastly underprepared for this pandemic."
The senator urged supporters to sign a petition demanding that the Trump administration guarantee that any coronavirus vaccine and treatment is free and available for everyone in the U.S.
"Right now in the United States, reports suggest over 500 confirmed cases across many different states and Washington, D.C., and at least 22 deaths," Sanders wrote. "But the truth is, we cannot be sure about these numbers because the Trump administration has completely mismanaged making coronavirus testing available, and local clinics and hospitals are still woefully unprepared to diagnose potential cases."
Sanders described Vice President Mike Pence—the leader of the White House's coronavirus response—as "somebody who, to be charitable, is not a great advocate for science in general."
"This crisis is another clear example of why we must guarantee healthcare as a right for every single man, woman, and child in this country," Sanders wrote. "This crisis is another example of why we need universal paid family leave in this country, so people who are sick can stay home, recover, and prevent the virus from spreading. This crisis is another example of why we must take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry."
"Health experts agree that the spread of the coronavirus will likely get worse before it gets better," Sanders added. "Donald Trump must stop spreading lies and fear, and leave the science to scientists and health professionals, not politicians. We must make certain that we are prepared for a pandemic."