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Biden says he'd lock down country if spread of coronavirus warranted it

POLITICO logo POLITICO 8/21/2020 By Evan Semones
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: WILMINGTON, DE - AUGUST 13: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a coronavirus briefing with health experts at the Hotel DuPont on August 13, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Harris is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to be a presumptive nominee on a presidential ticket by a major party in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) © Drew Angerer/Getty Images WILMINGTON, DE - AUGUST 13: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a coronavirus briefing with health experts at the Hotel DuPont on August 13, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Harris is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to be a presumptive nominee on a presidential ticket by a major party in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he would do "whatever it takes" to combat the spread of coronavirus within the country — including locking down the U.S. if deemed necessary.

“I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists,” Biden told ABC’s David Muir in a joint interview with his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, to air Sunday. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to save lives.”

Biden’s comments represent the strongest potential action the Democratic presidential nominee has proposed to stanch the spread of the virus that has killed at least 175,000 people across the U.S. as of Friday evening.

President Donald Trump has resisted calls for another shutdown despite a spike in coronavirus cases in many states this summer. Trump and members of his administration have argued a new lockdown would cause irreparable harm to the economy.


Video: Obama: Consequences of Trump's 'failure' severe (Reuters - US Video Online)

"We won't be closing the country again. We won't have to do that,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News in June.

Biden, appearing in his first interview since officially becoming the Democrat’s nominee for president this week, strongly disagreed with Trump’s reasoning.

“We cannot get the country moving until we control the virus. That is the fundamental flaw of this administration’s thinking to begin with,” he said. “In order to keep the country running and moving — and the economy growing and people employed — you have to fix the virus.”

A majority of states allowed businesses deemed essential to remain open after the pandemic surged while restaurants, bars and theaters were forced to close to help slow its spread. The nation’s current spike is driven by states — mainly in the southern and western U.S. — that eased restrictions on nonessential businesses early, a decision medical professionals warned would lead to a spike in infections.

Last week, the former vice president called on the nation’s governors to issue a universal mask mandate, but stopped short of advocating a federal mandate.

“Even though it's uncomfortable, and we're not used to it, wearing a mask is going to get our kids back to school sooner and safer,” Biden said then. “Every American wearing a mask outdoors is going to get our businesses back and to full strength.”

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