Former Vice President Joe Biden urged governors on Tuesday to "listen to Dr. Fauci" as they reopen their states' economies while the coronavirus continues to spread.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease specialist and a key member of President Donald Trump's White House coronavirus task force, is expected to publicly warn states Tuesday that prematurely reopening their economies will cause "needless suffering and death."
Trump, going against the advice of Fauci and other health officials, has been urging states to reopen businesses to prop up the U.S. economy, which has been ravaged by the pandemic.
Biden, the 2020 apparent Democratic nominee, said that if he were president now, he would advise governors to heed Fauci's warnings in their plans.
"We're in a situation where there's a great crisis. Dr. Fauci talks about if we open needlessly or open soon, there's going to be needless deaths and we have to have things in place. Everybody wants to open," Biden said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"The governors want to open. But they want to open in a rational way. The president hasn't done his work. The president hasn't done what he's supposed to do."
Biden went on, scorching Trump for claiming in March that "anybody who wants a test gets a test."
Health officials have warned about a shortage of tests across the country. That shortage, along with tight restrictions on who can be tested, has allowed infected people to go undetected and further spread Covid-19, health officials have said.
"Anyone can't get a test around the country," Biden said.
The former vice president also unleashed a withering attack on Trump's response to the outbreak and pandemic.
"Granted, more tests are coming forward but look, this needless complacency the president has engaged in from the very beginning. He knew about this crisis all the way back in January and February," Biden said. "He's been incompetent the way in which he's responded to it. We have 80,000 deaths. We have more of the virus than any nation in the world. What's the story here? I mean, come on. This is just Fantasyland that he's talking about."
As Biden was giving his interview, Trump unleashed a tweetstorm in which he defended the U.S. response to the coronavirus.
"Our Testing is the BEST in the World, by FAR! Numbers are coming down in most parts of our Country, which wants to open and get going again. It is happening, safely!" Trump tweeted.
The White House declined to comment.
The Trump 2020 campaign, when reached for comment, called Biden's words a "false attack" and defended the president's response to the coronavirus outbreak.
"President Trump acted early and decisively by restricting travel from China while Biden called it 'xenophobic' and 'fear-mongering,'" Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign, told CNBC in a statement. "The President also has called out China and pinpointed it as the source of the virus while Biden fears the exposure of his long record of being soft on the Communist Chinese government."
Murtaugh's statement continued: "President Trump led the hard work to establish the United States as the world's leader in coronavirus testing, while Biden sat in his basement offering nothing but relentless criticism designed to divide Americans and erode their confidence in the government's response. Joe Biden is practicing despicable politics while President Trump is leading the nation in the war against the virus."
The outbreak has spread to dozens of countries globally, with more than 4.1 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 286,336 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has had more than 1.3 million cases and at least 79,528 deaths, according to the latest tallies.