Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., blamed the federal government for not responding to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic with "more urgency and seriousness."
Sasse's response follows newly released audio of interviews with President Donald Trump talking to journalist Bob Woodward in early February. Trump called coronavirus "deadly stuff," but also compared it to the flu. In March, Trump told Woodward he "wanted to always play it [coronavirus] down."
"From the very beginning, I've been pushing that we needed a much more aggressive testing regime," Sasse told host Guy Benson. "Americans had some lead time on the virus, but that time didn't translate into enough action."
Sasse continued, "I've been pretty clear for a long time that I wanted the whole White House to start acting like a team on a mission – trying to tackle a real problem, not trying to manage short-term media."
"Tens of thousands of Americans have died from the virus," Sasse said. "Tens of millions of Americans are out of work because of the lockdown that flowed from the virus and from some government mistakes. It's deadly serious stuff."
Sasses compared the coronavirus pandemic to the influenza outbreak in 1918 that killed 675,000 people in the United States. By contrast, coronavirus has been attributed to killing nearly 190,000 Americans.
"We've got all sorts of tools at our disposal in 2020 that we didn't have in 1918," he said. "We needed to be acting with more urgency and seriousness than the U.S. government delivered on to the American people."
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