Former Vice President Joe Biden laid out in today’s The New York Times that there are specific and essential steps that must be taken prior to any decision to open the U.S. back up again and warned that the country cannot afford more of Donald Trump’s mistakes.
On April 12, Biden published his plan on how to safely reopen the American economy before a vaccine has been distributed. The former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee for president laid out three needed steps for partially reopening the country: slow the spread of the virus “significantly,” finally launch widespread testing, and ensure hospitals have the tools needed to handle flare-ups. Biden also laid out how he would discuss with business leaders and labor how businesses would need to change to safely operate before a vaccine was ready to ensure workers and customers did not become infected.
Biden also informed the public of Trump’s unprepared and chaotic response to the crisis. Biden warned, “The administration’s failure to plan, to prepare, to honestly assess and communicate the threat to the nation led to catastrophic results. We cannot repeat those mistakes.”
First, we have to get the number of new cases of the disease down significantly. That means social distancing has to continue and the people on the front lines have to get the supplies and equipment they need. President Trump needs to use his full powers under the Defense Production Act to fight the disease with every tool at our disposal. He needs to get the federal response organized and stop making excuses. For more Americans to go back to their jobs, the president needs to do better at his job.
Second, there needs to be widespread, easily available and prompt testing — and a contact tracing strategy that protects privacy. A recent report from Mr. Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services made clear that we are far from achieving this goal.
Make no mistake: An effective plan to beat the virus is the ultimate answer to how we get our economy back on track. So we should stop thinking of the health and economic responses as separate. They are not.
If I were president, I would convene top experts from the private sector, industry by industry, to come up with new ideas on how to operate more safely. Perhaps offices and factories will need to space out workers and pursue other solutions to lessen risk of spread of the virus on the job. Restaurants may need new layouts, with diners farther apart.
As we prepare to reopen America, we have to remember what this crisis has taught us: The administration’s failure to plan, to prepare, to honestly assess and communicate the threat to the nation led to catastrophic results. We cannot repeat those mistakes.