Biden criticizes Trump administration’s coronavirus response

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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden talks with supporters at a campaign event at Wofford University February 28, 2020 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Sean Rayford | Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday criticized President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak here in the U.S., accusing the administration of being largely unprepared.

“We knew this was coming … back as far as January,” the current Democratic presidential hopeful said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “They didn’t even begin to prepare the testing kits. … That is kind of elementary.”

Biden accused the Trump administration of eliminating an office in the White House to deal with future outbreaks of pandemic diseases, which he said was set up during the Ebola crisis in West Africa from 2014 to 2016.

The top White House official in charge of responding to pandemic diseases, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, left the Trump administration in 2018 and his team was disbanded in a shake up of the National Security Council under John Bolton, according to The Washington Post. Vice President Mike Pence has been tasked with overseeing the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus. 

“The fact is, other nations have had thousands of test so far,” Biden said on CNN. “What are we doing? Why are we just getting started?”

“The idea that this is not a pandemic … is absolutely bizarre,” the former vice president said.

A representative from the White House didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Earlier Sunday morning, also appearing on “State of the Union,” current Vice President Mike Pence said more than 15,000 coronavirus testing kits are in the mail, en route to health professional. He said another 50,000 had been ordered.

Biden over the weekend won the 2020 South Carolina Democratic primary, a needed boost for a once-promising presidential campaign. He had previously stumbled in early nominating contests — with fourth, fifth and second place finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, respectively.

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