Sen. Bernie Sanders said Monday that his campaign is consulting with local public health officials before his rallies as he chases the Democratic presidential nomination amid mounting concern over the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I think every American has got to think about it. And we, before we do rallies, consult with local public health officials to make sure that it’s OK. So we’ve never done a rally without the approval of local public health officials,” Sanders told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Cuomo Prime Time.”
The coronavirus outbreak has presented a unique challenge to the remaining Democratic primary candidates and President Donald Trump as they travel around the country for rallies and events that involve handshakes and other personal interactions with supporters.
The virus has infected more than 108,000 people around the world and killed more than 3,800, according to CNN’s tally. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it is likely that widespread transmission of the virus will occur in the United States, where there were 717 confirmed cases as of Monday night.
Calling for “leadership that is based on science” in the face of the pandemic, Sanders tied the spread of the virus to his health care platform of “Medicare for All,” a pillar of his White House bid and democratic socialist vision for the country.
“We’re the only country – major country – not to guarantee health care to all. Think about somebody watching this program right now who may be feverish, who may be having a cough, who may be saying ‘God, do I have the coronavirus? But I can’t afford to go to a doctor. I can’t afford the couple hundred bucks it may cost me.’ Think about a worker who’s making $13, $15 an hour who doesn’t have any paid medical leave who has to go to work together because if he or she doesn’t go to work they don’t have the income to take care of their family,” he said.
“So one of the proposals that we have made is that in this moment while we move toward Medicare for All, every worker in America should be able to go to a doctor when you are sick right now to make sure that you get the testing that you need to to determine whether or not you are sick.”
His comments Monday night come just before a slate of critical states vote during Tuesday’s presidential primaries. Asked by CNN on Sunday if he and the other candidates should limit their travel and avoid crowds, Sanders said “Well, in the best of all possible worlds, maybe.”
“But right now we’re running as hard as we can.”