Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Briahna Joy Gray: Last-minute push for voting legislation felt 'perfomative' Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE (I-Vt.) on Friday called on the federal government to “massively” expand the availability of tests for the coronavirus as the illness spreads across the country.
Speaking to reporters at his presidential campaign headquarters in Burlington, Vt., Sanders laid out steps the Trump administration should take to ensure that all Americans are adequately cared for amid the pandemic.
“We must prepare for this response in an unprecedented way, making sure that our government responds effectively and protects the interest of all of our people regardless of their income or where they live,” Sanders said.
“Needless to say, we must massively increase the availability of test kits for the coronavirus and the speed with which those tests are processed. We need to anticipate significant increases in hospital admissions,” he added. “We will need more doctors and nurses and medical personnel of all kinds, and we just make sure these frontline personnel are protected from this disease they are treating.”
Sanders’s comments come as his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill pan President TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE’s response to the coronavirus, with many specifically pointing to the government’s slow rollout of testing kits.
The House is set to vote later Friday on legislation to provide financial help to victims of the fast-moving coronavirus that would include free testing.
“The three most important parts of this bill are testing, testing, testing. This legislation facilitates free coronavirus testing for everyone, including the uninsured,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress Manchin: Biden spending plan talks would start 'from scratch' Reps. Massie, Grijalva test positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Calif.) said during a press conference. “We can only defeat this outbreak if we have an accurate determination of its scale and scope, so that we can pursue the precise, science-based response that is necessary.”
Pelosi said the House would vote on the legislation with or without the president's support.
Sanders, a staunch progressive, has pointed to the rapid spread of the coronavirus as evidence that his “Medicare for All” proposal would be best suited to revamp the health care system and tackle the pandemic, saying it is crucial everyone is insured.
“When somebody is not treated for the virus, when somebody is unable to afford to go to that doctor, that means that infection can spread to many others,” he said. “Now the lack of health insurance for many millions of people threatens many other people as well.”
“If this isn’t a red flag for the current dysfunctional and wasteful healthcare system, frankly, I don’t know what is,” he added.
Sanders and Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden have both put an emphasis on combatting coronavirus in recent days. On Thursday, Biden rolled out his plan to combat the spreading disease.
There have been more than 1,800 confirmed coronavirus cases thus far in the U.S. Forty-one people have died, according to The New York Times.