Bernie Sanders was the first-ever remote guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers Monday night, livestreaming from his home in Burlington, Vermont, while quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meyers — also at home — asked Sanders how he was running his presidential campaign and acting as a senator during this time.
“It is a very, very strange time for me…The campaign has been radically changed — we can’t do rallies, we can’t go out and do door-to-door stuff, which is what we love to do,” Sanders said. “As a senator, I can’t meet in person with my staff. So it is a strange moment for me.”
Sanders, who currently is behind former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary, has funneled much of his campaign over the past few weeks into advocacy for Medicare for All as a solution to COVID-19. He has asked campaign donors to send contributions to various charities and organizations actively fighting the pandemic and providing food, clothing, shelter and protective gear to combat the virus in the United States.
“Right now, as we speak, millions of people are losing their jobs and some 87 million people already do not have any health insurance or are under-insured,” he said. “So people are sitting home right now, scared to death that somebody in their family’s gonna come down with the virus; they don’t know how they will even pay for the treatment that they receive, let alone any other healthcare problems their families have. Second of all, people are asking, ‘How does it happen where we spend twice as much per person on healthcare as any other nation, and yet our public health system is so weak?'”
He also pointed out that although Americans pay twice as much per person on healthcare as any other nation, the U.S. public health system has been underfunded and unequipped to deal with the virus. “We have doctors and nurses right now who don’t have the masks, don’t have the gloves, don’t have the gowns — the protective equipment that they need to keep themselves safe and do the work that they have to do,” he sais. “A Medicare for All system is designed to provide quality care for all, to do preventative work in order to prepare for some types of pandemics, not simply to make huge amounts of money for the insurance companies and the drug companies.”
Sanders concluded by referencing mass layoffs and the increase of unemployed Americans during this crisis, saying that the system would need to change once the virus was stabilized, and ideally before that.
“When this is all over — and it will be over — will we simply go back to the same old, same old?” he said. “I hope not. I hope that we ask why it is that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck…We need to rethink, after this epidemic is over, where America should be.”