Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden complained Thursday about President Donald Trump calling the Wuhan coronavirus “a foreign virus” in Wednesday’s Oval Office address.
“Labeling COVID-19 a foreign virus does not displace the accountability for the misjudgments that have taken place so far by the Trump administration,” Biden said. “The [Wuhan] coronavirus does not discriminate based on national origin, race, gender, or zip code.”
In Wednesday night’s primetime White House address announcing new travel restrictions to Europe, Trump pointed out that the novel coronavirus wreaking havoc on global public health and stock markets around the world began in China, accurately referring to it as a “foreign virus.” Many on the left, however, have been quick to decry the label as “racist” and “xenophobic,” although it’s common practice to identify a new disease with the site of its first outbreak, such as the West Nile virus and Spanish Flu.
In this case, however, it is even more important to identify the new coronavirus with where it originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, as the Chinese government attempted to cover up warnings and brushed off the threat of its severity, giving rise to what the World Health Organization has now declared a global pandemic.
On Thursday, Biden also criticized the administration’s decision to implement a near-total European travel ban recommended by White House public health advisors, with an exception for the United Kingdom.
“Banning all travel from Europe or any other part of the world may slow it, but…it will not stop it,” Biden warned.
In January, Biden also criticized as xenophobic the administration’s travel ban to China as the outbreak began to worsen, although it was instrumental in preventing an outbreak in the United States much sooner.
“This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia,” Biden said during an Iowa campaign event.
In response to Biden’s Thursday press conference, the Trump campaign put out a statement reminding the public of Biden’s opposition to the China travel ban.
“Just weeks ago, he was openly critical of President Trump’s early move to restrict travel from China to the United States in response to the coronavirus – a decision which medical experts agree helped impede the spread of the virus to this country,” Trump Communications Director Tim Murtaugh said. “President Trump acted early and decisively and has put the United States on stronger footing than other nations.”