Fact Check: Joe Biden Did Not Call for Country to Be Shut Down One Week Earlier

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MARCH 09: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden address the crowd gathered for a campaign rally at Renaissance High School on March 09, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Michigan will hold its primary election tomorrow. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CLAIM: Joe Biden called on Trump to shut down the country’s economy “one week earlier” to deal with coronavirus.

VERDICT: FALSE. Biden did not call for an early shutdown, though he did criticize Trump’s policies on the pandemic.

Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared Friday morning on The Breakfast Club, the popular radio show hosted by “Charlemagne tha God.” (Charlemagne had been ripping Biden for months for not appearing yet on his broadcast.)

While much of the ensuring controversy focused on Biden’s comments on race — “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black” — he also made some rather outlandish claims on coronavirus.

Biden cited a recent study, which was written up in the New York Times, claiming fewer people would have died from coronavirus if the country shut down one week earlier. He then claimed he had been calling for such action to be taken.

“If he had listened to me, and others, and acted one week earlier to deal with this virus, there’d be 36,000 fewer people dead. Dead! Dead! And you guys are wondering, what’s he doing? Come on, man! Get a life! Get a life!” Biden said.

But Biden never called for the country to be shut down. Trump delivered his Oval Office address on March 11. One week earlier, on March 4, Biden was still traveling around the country and holding campaign rallies with supporters.

For example, he held a campaign rally in Detroit, Michigan, on March 9 (above) with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — now hailed by Democrats and the media for her tough coronavirus restrictions. He campaigned in a Detroit auto plant the next day, cursing at a worker who criticized his stance on gun control. He only began canceling rallies on March 10.

Biden did write an article criticizing Trump’s coronavirus policies on January 27 — one of the few times a Democratic candidate said anything about the issue before late February. He also attacked Trump’s travel ban on China on Jan. 31 as “hysterical xenophobia” — though that ban proved successful in slowing the spread of the virus to the United States.

The first time any Democratic debate discussed the coronavirus was at the Feb. 25 debate in South Carolina. Biden did not call for shutting down the economy; rather, he said he would restore funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which had already been restored; and he said he would demand that China allow American experts into the country, which had also already happened. He never urged Trump to shut down the U.S. economy.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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