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Senator Sherrod Brown calls Trump's coronavirus response 'incompetent' and 'immoral'

“Incompetent” and “immoral” are just two of the scathing adjectives unleashed by Democratic Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown as he attacked President Donald Trump and what he called the White House’s “mishandling” of the coronavirus crisis in a new interview with Yahoo Finance.

“What President Trump has not done and has done badly will cost American lives,” Brown told Yahoo Finance’s On The Move on Tuesday, contending that Trump miscalculated the seriousness of the lethal virus and is responsible for ten of thousands of deaths.

Trump has notably encouraged protests over coronavirus lockdowns, and early on downplayed the gravity of the disease — tweeting in March that the U.S. had “only 129 cases” because of “quick action on closing our borders.”

Of course, the number of cases skyrocketed. The U.S. makes up just over 4% of the world’s population but now has over 1 million of the world’s 3.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases, Brown pointed out. “That's because our president has been immoral and incompetent and focused on himself and not on the people in this country,” Brown said.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 12: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaks to members of the media outside a briefing on the latest development of the COVID-19 outbreak to Senate members at Dirksen Senate Office Building March 12, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. As more new confirmed cases in the U.S., President Trump announced last night to ban travel from most of the European countries for 30 days, except for American residents. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Trump administration has faced criticism over its response to the coronavirus from others, including former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who told Yahoo Finance last month that “we will have more Americans die” because the U.S. was not prepared for the pandemic. In particular, she criticized a lack of testing for the disease and protective gear for health care workers.

For those quick to judge the Democratic Senator’s unfiltered assessment of Trump as overtly partisan, by contrast, Brown has high praise for the Republican governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine. When Trump dismissed the seriousness of the virus, Brown said, DeWine was already putting bold plans in place. As one of the first governors to institute a shelter-in-place order effective March 23, DeWine likely saved lives, according to Brown.

Credit: David Foster/Yahoo Finance

With attention shifting to reopening businesses across the U.S, Brown drafted and sent a 4-point plan to the White House last week, outlining steps needed to safely reopen the economy. The proposal calls for more testing, vast contact tracing, instituting worker safety protections, and enforcing effective isolation and quarantine methods before any social distancing guidelines are relaxed. 

DeWine is of the same mind on testing, according to Brown. “I know the governor wants way more tests and he’s not getting much help out of Washington,” Brown said. While Brown says he’s confident DeWine will restore economic activity slowly, he admits even he doesn’t really know what next steps are and relies on medical experts for guidance.

But for states lifting lockdowns and reopening early — against the advice of medical professionals — Brown has only condemnation.

“When I look at some of these southern states, three in particular where they have mini Trumps as Governors, you have Texas, Georgia, and Florida .... — they're trying to out-Trump Trump on all this stuff, and I'm concerned,” said Brown, musing about the risks. “I know those people don't stay in those states. They travel all over and more likely to be exposed, and it concerns me for my country.”

Yvette Killian is a producer for Yahoo Finance’s On The Move.

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