Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii told Fox News Wednesday that politicians must get beyond petty arguing and focus on real preventative solutions to fight the potential outbreak of coronavirus in the United States.
Gabbard ripped her fellow Democratic presidential candidates who took part in Tuesday's debate in Charleston, S.C., saying that the contenders spent their time piling on each other rather than discussing "serious challenges" like the virus.
"Voters probably walked away not getting much value and feeling frustrated given the serious challenges that we're facing right now with things like the coronavirus — something that is threatening the safety, health and well-being and lives of the American people and something that requires all of us as Americans coming together, standing together and standing together just as we would in wartime," she said.
As of Wednesday, there are 14 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, according to the CDC. Another 45 people who have been repatriated to the U.S. from Wuhan, China and the Diamond Princess cruise ship also have the virus but are counted separately from U.S. cases. Earlier Wednesday, health officials on Long Island said 83 people in Nassau County were being monitored for the virus, but added that there were no confirmed cases of the illness in the area
Gabbard admonished President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., for arguing over funding and playing politics with the threat.
"Now is the time where Democrats and Republicans … we've got to stand together as Americans and put the health and well being of the American people first," she said. "We cannot afford to be penny-wise and pound-foolish — we've got to come together and say what actions are necessary immediately to prevent what some people are saying is inevitable."
"I think it's wrong for some people to say well, it's inevitable and this is going to come here and it's going to take the lives of millions of Americans," Gabbard added. "I don't accept that."
She criticized the preparation, or lack thereof, for a contagion, saying that in her home state, doctors cannot get the proper supplies in case patients needed to be treated for coronavirus.
"In Hawaii, they're not able to get their hands-on testing kits. We have a shortage of masks that are not available, even to healthcare professionals that have folks come into their hospitals or ERs. We're behind the curve. We cannot afford for this senseless partisan bickering and putting partisan politics literally ahead of the lives of the American people," she said. "This requires leadership, it requires us standing together as Americans where when we do this, we know we can accomplish anything and it requires working with other countries."
Hawaii has no confirmed cases of coronavirus. However, Honolulu FOX affiliate KHON reports that there are 61 people spread among the archipelago who are "self-monitoring." Most of those are on Oahu, while other self-monitoring cases have been counted on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.