Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) issued a stark warning on the potential impact of the coronavirus on Thursday, saying the crisis caused by the outbreak “is on the scale of a major war.” 

“Unfortunately in this time of international crisis, it is clear to me at least, that we have an administration that is largely incompetent, and whose incompetence and recklessness have threatened the lives of many, many people in our country,” Sanders said taking aim at President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE’s response to the crisis, speaking from Burlington, Vt. 

Sanders used the address to call for economic equality and “Medicare for All,” saying the crisis has only heightened the need for reform in those areas. 


“While we work to pass a Medicare for All, single-payer system, the United States government today must make it clear that in the midst of this emergency, everyone in our country, regardless of income or where they live, must be able to get all of the health care they need without cost,” Sanders said. 

“Obviously, when a vaccine or other effective treatment is developed, it must be free of charge,” Sanders said. “We cannot live in a nation where if you have the money you get the treatment you need to survive, but if you’re working-class or poor, you get to the end of the line.” 

The speech came roughly two hours after his Democratic rival former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE rolled out his plan to combat the coronavirus on Thursday. 

The addresses were opportunities for both presidential contenders to contrast themselves with Trump, who gave his primetime televised Oval Office address to the nation on Wednesday evening. 

The Trump campaign hit back at Sanders, calling his remarks the “wrong prescription” for combatting the virus. 

“Like Joe Biden, Sanders advocates a government takeover of healthcare, which would close hundreds of rural hospitals. His plan would drive doctors and other medical workers away from the profession, leaving America woefully unprepared for public health emergencies,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement. 

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