U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he would do “whatever it takes” to combat the spread of coronavirus within the country — including locking down the U.S. if deemed necessary.
“I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists,” Biden told ABC’s David Muir in a joint interview with his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, to air Sunday. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to save lives.”
Biden’s comments represent the strongest potential action the Democratic presidential nominee has proposed to stanch the spread of the virus that has killed at least 175,000 people across the U.S. as of Friday evening.
President Donald Trump has resisted calls for another shutdown despite a spike in coronavirus cases in many states this summer. Trump and members of his administration have argued a new lockdown would cause irreparable harm to the economy.
“We won’t be closing the country again. We won’t have to do that,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News in June.
Biden, appearing in his first interview since officially becoming the Democrat’s nominee for president this week, strongly disagreed with Trump’s reasoning.
“We cannot get the country moving until we control the virus. That is the fundamental flaw of this administration’s thinking to begin with,” he said. “In order to keep the country running and moving — and the economy growing and people employed — you have to fix the virus.”
A majority of states allowed businesses deemed essential to remain open after the pandemic surged while restaurants, bars and theaters were forced to close to help slow its spread. The nation’s current spike is driven by states — mainly in the southern and western U.S. — that eased restrictions on nonessential businesses early, a decision medical professionals warned would lead to a spike in infections.
Last week, the former vice president called on the nation’s governors to issue a universal mask mandate, but stopped short of advocating a federal mandate.
During the ABC interview, Harris responded to Trump’s recent attacks in which he blasted the California lawmaker as a “mad woman” and referred to her as the “meanest” and “most horrible” senator in Congress.
“I think that there is so much about what comes out of the Donald Trump’s mouth that is designed to distract the American people from what he is doing every day, that is about neglect, negligence, and harm to the American people,” Harris said.
“And incompetence,” Biden added. “The idea that he would say something like that, no president — no president — has ever said anything like that. No president has ever used those words.”