“We’ve got to do the hard work of getting the virus under control now.”
Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said more work needs to be done to rein in COVID-19 before Arizona and other states’ schools reopen classrooms.
“Just ordering schools to open like [President Donald] Trump has done isn’t good enough,” he told ABC 15 on Tuesday. “We’ve got to do the hard work of getting the virus under control now and over the next two months.”
The former vice president said one of his biggest concerns is sending teachers back to work without the resources they need to stay safe, like personal protective equipment (PPE).
He pointed to a plan his campaign released earlier this month that outlines what should be done before students head back to school, including passing a $30 million education relief package for infrastructure and sanitation.
President Donald Trump, on the other hand, has threatened to cut federal funding for school districts that choose to maintain remote learning and not return to in-person classes right away.
Biden also criticized Trump’s decision to stop hospitals from reporting COVID-19 data to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“He’s making sure that the hospital rates in your state can’t be reported to the CDC,” Biden said. “It can only go to the Department of Health [and Human Services] where, in fact, he in fact has political appointees.”
Biden says his plan for reopening schools follows CDC guidance and is “not altered or watered down from best practices and the tools that are being suggested.”
During the interview, Biden also discussed his plan to give local law enforcement agencies more funding in hopes of being able to reform police departments. He pointed out the Trump administration’s previous budget plans have actually called for cuts to local police departments.
“I am opposed to defunding police,” Biden said. “As a matter of fact, I call for putting more money in, $300 million to provide for community policing.”
Arizona, a COVID-19 Hotspot
Biden called Arizona’s COVID-19 numbers, which have placed the state as a top global hotspot for the virus, “a giant problem.” While testing is free, Biden said he would also like coronavirus-related treatment to be available at no charge.
Arizona has had difficulty providing testing and quick turnaround times for results.
Gov. Doug Ducey has also come under fire for allowing the state’s stay-at-home order to expire May 15, before the state had met criteria recommended for reopening.
Ducey’s decision to not extend the partial lockdown days after Trump visited a Honeywell facility in Phoenix that is manufacturing face masks, at a time when the president was pressuring states to allow businesses to reopen.
Biden acknowledged state leaders are put in a difficult bind.
“The poor governors, Democrat and Republican, are in a horrible situation,” he said. “You saw what happens when in fact a Republican crosses him as president. You saw what happened to his former attorney general running Alabama in a primary.”
But he said he does wish more people would stand up to Trump’s demands.
“I just wish some of my Republican friends would have the nerve to stand up and say, ‘Mr. President, enough, enough,’” Biden said. “This is all about the president’s re-election chances.”