Sanders: We need to 'shut this president up right now' about coronavirus

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Donald Trump is 'undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people,' Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said at Sunday's debate.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden spent much of the first half of Sunday's Democratic presidential debate sparring over how they would each handle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Sanders had blunt advice for Donald Trump, telling him to stop spreading misinformation.

"The first thing we need to do, whether I'm president or not, is to shut this president up right now," Sanders said. "Because he is undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people. It is unacceptable for him to be blabbering with unfactual information which is confusing the general public."

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The comments came hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that organizers across the country cancel or postpone all events that consist of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks.

Numerous schools and businesses across the nation have also announced they are closing for weeks in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.

Trump has mostly downplayed the pandemic, waiting until Friday afternoon to finally declare the outbreak a national emergency.

Biden for his part responded to questions about how he would handle the situation with a focus on protecting workers who are unpaid during those nationwide closures.

"We have to deal with the economic fallout quickly," Biden said. "And that means making sure that people who, in fact, lose their job, don't get a paycheck, can't pay their mortgage are able to pay it — and pay them now."

Biden also said small businesses impacted by the pandemic should be able to get interest-free loans.

At least 3,487 people in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the New York Times, and at least 62 have died.

In addition to banning mass gatherings, the CDC recommends frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, as well as other ways to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Since the start of the outbreak earlier this year, the Trump administration has offered a scattered response to the crisis. Among other things, it has been accused of bungling early efforts by not providing response worker with proper safety equipment and training, and for not offering widespread testing quickly enough which likely worsened the outbreak significantly.

Trump however has praised his administration's efforts, calling the outbreak a hoax pushed by Democrats and the media. More specifically, he has claimed baselessly that his decision to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and his continued crackdowns on immigration have protected Americans from the virus, ignoring statistics that show Mexico and Central America have much lower numbers of confirmed cases than the United States.

"To this point, and because we have had a very strong border policy, we have had 40 deaths related to CoronaVirus. If we had weak or open borders, that number would be many times higher!" he tweeted Friday.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.