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Obama criticizes Trump on pandemic response: 'It's not rocket science'

Former President Obama criticized President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE on Tuesday over his administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During an interview on "The Late Show with Stephen ColbertStephen Tyrone ColbertWake up, America: Laughter is healing Without Trump, late-night 'comedy' becomes even more insufferable Dolly Parton says she turned down medal from Trump administration twice MORE," Obama said that dealing with the pandemic would have been hard for anyone to handle. However, he noted that Canada’s death rate, which is lower than the U.S., shows what could have been in the U.S. 

“Let’s take Canada, where the death rate is 39 percent ours per capita, right? That’s a measure of if we had done the work, that, it’s not rocket science, we’re not talking about inventing vaccines. I’m glad to see the vaccines now coming on board,” Obama said. 

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“Preliminarily communicating effectively, respecting the science. Not undermining the leading epidemiologist in the country and saying he’s an idiot,” Obama added. “Being consistent in terms of masks and social distancing, not suggesting that this is some act of oppression, but rather just a common sense thing to prevent people from getting sick.” 

Obama also said those steps would have saved more lives, and that people would have felt more confident about making day-to-day decisions. 

“Had we just taken those steps, there is no doubt that we would have saved some lives,” Obama said. “And ironically the economy would be better because we would not be swinging back and forth in the ways that we have and people would feel more confidence about making day-to-day decisions about shopping or going out. “ 

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Trump has repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus pandemic and has been absent from meetings of the White House coronavirus task force. He and his allies have also called on Americans to resist new guidelines aimed at curbing the spread ahead of the winter. 

It was first reported in March that the Obama administration walked the incoming administration through a hypothetical scenario in which a pandemic worse than the 1918 Spanish flu shut down cities like Seoul and London in early 2017. 

Obama later brought it up on the campaign trail for President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it MORE

“We literally left this White House a pandemic playbook,” Obama said during an October rally in Philadelphia. “They probably used it to, I don’t know, prop up a wobbly table somewhere.”