Sen. Klobuchar Addresses Coronavirus Fears at Democratic Debate: "This Is So Serious"

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar

The Minnesota senator also directed viewers to the Center for Disease Control website for updates.

In a rare moment of Tuesday's Democratic debate when candidates did not retread old arguments, Amy Klobuchar addressed what she would do about the spread of coronavirus if she were president.

In response to CBS News moderator Gayle King's question about whether she would close borders to Americans exposed to coronavirus, Klobuchar seemed to say no. "What we have to do is make sure that we have treatment for those Americans and that they are in a quarantine situation. We don't want to expose people, but we want to give them help," she said.

The Minnesota senator agreed with a previous statement from former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg that the president had sufficiently not invested in American health organizations like the CDC. She also noted that he hasn't addressed the nation on the topic. "I would do all of that," she said.

Then she turned to the cameras: "But I want to take this out of politics right now and talk to the American people because this is so serious. I'm not going to give my website right now, I'm going to give the CDC's website, which is CDC.gov, so that people keep checking in and they follow the rules and they realize what they have to do if they feel sick and they call their health care provider," she said. "Because many doctors are saying it's just a matter of time before we start seeing this here."

She later added that she wanted to have better relationship with allies for support in curbing the spread of the virus and bolster American education because she believes innovations like vaccines come from bright students.

Posed the same question, fellow candidate Joe Biden pointed back to his record as vice president of the United States. He said he would do "what we did with ebola." He elaborated, "I helped set up, that office of the presidency, in the president's office, on diseases that are pandemic diseases. We increased the budget of the CDC, we increased the NIH budget." He added, "The second thing I put out to you is is what I would do is restore the funding. [Trump] cut the funding for the CDC, he tried to cut the funding for NIH."

Biden also said he would phone Chinese leaders and call for increased transparency between the two countries and say, "we have to know what's going on with you." He said he would "insist, insist, insist."

The latest Democratic debate took place at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, four days before the the state's primary contest. It was sponsored by CBS News, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and Twitter.