Obama: US not dealing with coronavirus as 'smartly' as other countries

Former President Obama said in remarks released Thursday that the U.S. is not dealing with the coronavirus pandemic as “smartly” as other countries with similar resources.

The former president made the remarks during a conversation with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Joe Biden should enact critical government reforms if he wins MORE, saying he was confident that if his former vice president is elected in November he will respond to the crisis effectively.

“You and I had experience dealing with health crises, public health crises, and in each instance what you and I understood, and why I have so much confidence that you're going to be able to deal with COVID in the way that other countries with our kinds of resources are dealing with it right now, which is smartly — I have confidence you're going to actually listen to the experts,” Obama told Biden.

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“And you're going to pay attention to the science, and you're not going to quit on trying to actually bend down the curve of disease and transmission rates," he said.

The former president has sought to boost Biden as the former vice president campaigns against President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE with fewer than four months until the election.

Obama has criticized the Trump administration's response to the pandemic in the past, describing it in a call with supporters earlier this year as a "disaster."

Coronavirus cases across the U.S. have continued to increase in recent weeks, while a number of other countries that saw earlier spikes in the disease have managed to mitigate the spread of the virus.

There are more than 3.9 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. and more than 143,000 fatalities, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has the most reported cases and deaths of any other country, based on official figures released by each country.

Biden noted during the conversation with Obama that before leaving office, their administration set up a pandemic office within the White House with a goal of creating international cooperation to prepare for another potential outbreak. In 2018, the White House disbanded the National Security Council’s office overseeing responses to pandemics.

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Obama in the remarks released Thursday touted Biden as prepared to handle such a crisis as both Democrats slammed Trump for his past remarks seeming to dismiss his responsibility in responding to the pandemic. Trump said during a March press conference that he did not "take responsibility at all" for a lag in testing.

“I know how deeply you care about American families, and that any loss of life that is preventable, if you're president of the United States, it's your job to try and prevent it,” Obama told Biden. 

Obama underscored his comments by stating that public health crises can’t be separated from economic crises. 

“If you want the economy growing again, people have to feel safe,” Obama said. 

Trump and top administration officials have long pushed for states and schools to reopen, even as the number of cases has increased across the country.

Earlier this week, Trump conceded during a White House briefing that the pandemic will “get worse before it gets better.” 

“Something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is,” he said.

He also urged Americans to wear masks, practice physical distancing and wash their hands. It was a shift in tone from the president’s previous remarks, which largely downplayed increasing cases across the country.