Biden: 'False choice' to decide between coronavirus safety measures and economy

“The way you revive the economy is you defeat the disease,” the apparent Democratic presidential nominee said.

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By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden said Thursday that the decision between protecting people’s health from the coronavirus and reopening the U.S. economy is a “false choice” because you can't do one without the other.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” co-host Willie Geist asked the former vice president what he would say to people who might favor a move by President Donald Trump to reopen the economy soon if it means they can get back to work and put food on the table.

“I say we should not send you back to work till it’s safe to send you back to work. This is a false choice,” said Biden, who was speaking from his home in Delaware, sitting next to his wife, Jill.

“The way you revive the economy is you defeat the disease,” he said.

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The apparent Democratic presidential nominee said the United States first needs to significantly reduce the number of positive COVID-19 cases before the economy is reopened, and when that happens, social distancing will have to continue. Biden also called for Trump to use the Defense Production Act and to appoint someone with a military background to oversee the distribution of supplies generated under that authority.

Widespread testing, Biden suggested, will be the key to determining who can go back to work and what places can open back up.

“We have to ensure that hospitals are ready for a flare-up,” he said. “The idea this isn’t going to flare up is just preposterous — it’s going to come back in some form or another.”

Experts have been warning that opening the country too quickly could result in another dramatic increase in cases. Trump, however, is expected to announce new guidelines Thursday for how states should begin the process to reopen. A draft plan being circulated by the Trump administration would advise areas of the country with low numbers of coronavirus infections to begin easing social distancing guidelines after May 1, NBC News reported Wednesday.

The 10-page draft document said that the regions that resume economic activity should have "limited transmission, ample public health and health system capacity” and should be on the lookout for a resurgence of positive cases.