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Biden lays out plan to 'safely' reopen country amid coronavirus pandemic

Former US Vice President and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19, known as the Coronavirus, during a press event in Wilmington, Delaware on March 12, 2020. By Jessica Dean and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden called for widespread testing and a continuation of social distancing in a New York Times op-ed published Sunday that lays out his plan to "safely" reopen the country amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

His stated strategy comes as a new debate buds in the Trump administration over whether May 1 is now the target date of revival for the US economy. If the curve is flattening, sources say President Donald Trump has asked in meetings, shouldn't some people be allowed back to work?

Biden, alternatively, called for a series of aggressive steps before the country can "reopen more businesses and put more people back to work."

The former vice president outlined the need to continue social distancing while utilizing the "full powers" of the Defense Production Act and establishing widespread testing.

He also stressed the need to make sure hospitals are ready for "flare-ups of the disease" that may occur when economic activity expands again.

"Things will not go back to 'normal' right away," Biden writes. "As public health experts have said, we should expect activity to return gradually, with sites like offices and stores reopening before arenas and theaters."

The steps Biden called for echo what he told the President earlier this month in a phone call discussing the federal response to the pandemic.

"I laid out what I thought he should be doing. I laid out four or five specific points that I thought were necessary. I indicated that it is about taking responsibility, and being the commander-in-chief, taking on the responsibility. He asked whether or not we would not discuss the detail of what we talked about, just saying that we had a good conversation," Biden said of the call to CNN's Chris Cuomo on "Prime Time."

Still, Biden placed responsibility directly on Trump and his administration Sunday, writing that "as we prepare to reopen America, we have to remember what this crisis has taught us: The administration's failure to plan, to prepare, to honestly assess and communicate the threat to the nation led to catastrophic results."

"We cannot repeat those mistakes."

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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