Bernie Sanders on Mike Pence’s new coronavirus role: ‘He wanted to pray away the HIV epidemic’

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had some harsh words for Vice President Mike Pence, who was handpicked by President Donald Trump to handle the coronavirus outbreak. Sanders singled out Pence’s alleged mishandling of the HIV outbreak in Indiana under Pence’s tenure as governor there and also chastised Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for refusing to promise a coronavirus vaccine would be affordable for all.

Sanders he took to Twitter to air his concerns.

“Trump’s plan for the coronavirus so far?

—Cut winter heating assistance for the poor.

—Have VP Pence, who wanted to ‘pray away’ HIV epidemic, oversee the response.

—Let ex-pharma lobbyist Alex Azar refuse to guarantee affordable vaccines to all.”

“Disgusting,” he added.

In the clip Sanders provided, Azar is being questioned by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) According to Azar, “we would want to make sure that we worked to make a vaccine” affordable for all, “but we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest.”

In 2015 Pence defunded Planned Parenthood, and that led to an HIV outbreak of more than 200 cases in Scott County. The then-governor was asked if he would support a needle exchange program to slow the pace of the virus and said: “I am going to go home and pray on it.” He waited two months to sign legislation for a temporary needle exchange program, and he has faced widespread criticism over his handling of the situation.

At a Wednesday press conference with Trump and public health officials, Pence said his role in the coronavirus situation is to bring Trump “the best options for action.” He added he would also “see to the safety and well-being and health of the American people.”

Worldwide more than 2500 people have died from the coronavirus, which has infected more than 80,000 people.

Featured image via Shutterstock 

Megan Hamilton

Megan Hamilton has traveled extensively throughout the Southern United States, Mexico, and parts of Central America. A lifelong atheist, these travels have informed her political views. She currently lives in a remote location with a large herd of cats and four dogs.