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Democratic candidates spell out how they would respond to coronavirus outbreak

Candidates respond to coronavirus outbreak
Candidates discuss coronavirus outbreak and containment 04:09

As the Trump administration grapples with the growing coronavirus outbreak, Democrats vying for their party's presidential nomination laid out their roadmaps for how they would respond if they were in the White House.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders advocated for increasing federal dollars for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), saying a boost in their funding is crucial to ensuring the U.S. is prepared to deal with an outbreak.

The Democratic presidential hopefuls also said they would improve relations with other countries to ensure the global community can work together to tackle future outbreaks.

"Whether or not the issue is climate change, which is clearly a global crisis requiring international cooperation, or infectious diseases like coronavirus, requiring international cooperation, we have to work and expand the World Health Organization, obviously we have to make sure the CDC, the NIH, our infectious departments are fully funded," Sanders said. "This is a global problem. We've got to work with countries all over the world to stop it."

Biden positioned himself as the only candidate on stage who has experience working to fight and contain the spread of a deadly illness, as he was vice president when the Obama administration dealt with the Ebola outbreak that began in 2014 and ravaged West Africa.

"No one up here has ever dealt internationally with any of these world leaders," Biden said. "I'm the only one that has."

The former vice president also said he would be pushing China to allow U.S. health officials into the country.

"I would be on the phone with China making it clear we are going to need to be in your country. You have to be open. You have to be clear," Biden said. "We have to know what's going on. We have to be there with you and insist on it and insist, insist, insist."

Klobuchar, of Minnesota, urged Americans to visit the CDC's website to ensure they are educated on what to do if they experience symptoms.

"I want to take this out of politics right now and talk to the American people because this is so serious," she said. "I'm not going to give my website right now. I'm going to give the CDC's website, which is so that people keep checking in and they follow the rules and they realize what they have to do if they feel sick."

There are more than 80,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide and the death toll is nearing 3,000. While there have not been any deaths from the virus in the U.S., the CDC warned Tuesday it's a matter of when, not if, the virus spreads here.

The Democratic presidential candidates appeared on stage in Charleston, South Carolina for the 10th Democratic debate, hosted by CBS News. The debate is the last one before the South Carolina primary Saturday and Super Tuesday on March 3.

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