Dec 8, 2020
Joe Biden Announces Fauci & Key Health Team Picks Briefing Transcript December 8
President-elect Joe Biden announced key health team appointees and nominees on December 8, including Dr. Anthony Fauci as the chief medical advisor on COVID-19. Read the transcript of the briefing introduction here.
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Joe Biden: (02:44)
Folks. Good afternoon. Today, I’m very proud to be announcing our healthcare and COVID team at a critical time, as we near the end of one of the toughest years we’ve faced as a nation. More than 285,000 dead Americans because of COVID-19 and counting. Last week COVID-19 was the number one cause of death in America. For black, Latino, and Native Americans are nearly three times as likely to die from it. COVID-19 is a mass casualty. For families and friends left behind is a gaping hole in your heart that will never be fully heal. As a country, we’ve been living with this pandemic for so long, we’re at risk of becoming numb to its toll on all of us.
Joe Biden: (03:50)
We’re resigned to feel that there’s nothing we can do and we can’t trust one another. That we must accept death, pain and sorrow. We’re in the midst of this deadly pandemic that’s infected almost 15 million Americans. One out of every 22 people in our country, often with devastating consequences of health. At this very moment, what is the outgoing administration asking the Supreme Court to do in the United States Supreme Court? To repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act when we need it most. A law that’s on the front lines against the pandemic, protects more than a hundred million Americans who live with pre-existing conditions, which will increase now including those with lung scarring and heart damage as a consequence of COVID-19.
Joe Biden: (04:44)
It provides coverage for more than 20 million Americans who get the care they need if they’re showing symptoms of COVID-19. The law that fulfills our moral obligation here in America, healthcare is a right for all, not a privileged for a few. But as all of you know, I know that out of our collective pain, we’re going to find a collective purpose to control the pandemic, to save lives and to heal as a nation. Today, I’m pleased to announce a team that is going to do just that. It’s a team of world-class experts at the top of their fields, crisis tested, defined by a deep sense of duty, honor and patriotism who are already ready to jump in. They’ve been advising me, many of them for a long time, and they’re going to be ready on day one to spare not a single effort to get this pandemic under control. So we can get back to work, get back to our lives, get back to our loved ones.
Joe Biden: (05:51)
They’ll lead the COVID-19 response across the government to accelerate testing, fix our supply chain and distribute the vaccine. The work of my economic team, because controlling the pandemic, delivering better healthcare and reviving the economy go hand in hand. They’ll work with my foreign policy and national security teams because we can’t only beat the virus here at home, it must be beaten everywhere, or it comes back to haunt us again. Today, I’m announcing that in consultation with Dr. Tony Fauci, we developed the first three objectives, the new initiative that I’m asking this team to complete once I’m sworn in, in our first 100 days in office. My first 100 days won’t end the COVID-19 virus, I can’t promise that. But we did not get into this mess quickly, we’re not going to get out of it quickly. It’s going to take some time.
Joe Biden: (06:51)
But I’m absolutely convinced that in 100 days, we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better. First, my first 100 days is going to require, I’m going to ask for a masking plan. Everyone for the first 100 days of my administration to wear a mask. It will start with my sign in order on day one to require masks where I can under the law, like federal buildings, interstate travel on planes, trains and buses. I’ll also be working with the governors and mayors to do the same in their states and their cities. We’re going to require masks wherever possible. But this goes beyond government action.
Joe Biden: (07:37)
And so as the new president, I’m going to speak directly to the American people and say what I’m saying now, we need your help. Wear masks for just 100 days. It’s the easiest thing you can do to reduce COVID cases, hospitalizations, and death. Help yourself, your family and your community. Whatever your politics or point of view, mask up for 100 days once we take office. 100 days to make a difference. It’s not a political statement. It’s a patriotic act. It won’t be the end of our efforts, but it’s a necessary and easy beginning, an easy start.
Joe Biden: (08:17)
Secondly, this team, this team will help get at the latest at the last 100 million COVID-19 vaccine, at least 100 million COVID vaccine shots into the arms of the American people in the first 100 days. 100 million shots in the first 100 days. And we’ll follow the guidance of science to get the vaccines to those most at risk. That includes healthcare professionals, people in longterm care and as soon as possible, we will include educators. This will be the most efficient mass vaccination plan in U.S. history. I credit everyone who has gotten us up to this point. But developing a vaccine is only one Herculean task. Distributing it is another Herculean task. Vaccines in a vile, only work if they’re injected into an arm of people, especially those most at risk.
Joe Biden: (09:21)
This would be one of the hardest and most costly operational challenges in our nation’s history. We’re going to need Congress to fully fund vaccine distribution to all corners of the country, to everyone. I’m encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in Congress around a $900 billion economic relief package, which I’ve said is critical. But this package is only a start for more action early next year. We must also focus significant resources on direct public health response to COVID-19. Our preliminary view of Trump administration’s vaccine distribution plans confirms media reports. Without urgent action by this Congress this month to put sufficient resources into vaccine distribution and manufacturing, which the bipartisan group was working on. There’s a real chance that after an early round of vaccinations, the effort will slow and stall.
Joe Biden: (10:25)
Let me repeat. We need Congress to finish the bipartisan work underway now, or millions of Americans may wait months longer to get the vaccine, months longer than they otherwise would have to wait to get the vaccine, vaccination. Look, and then we’re going to need additional action next year to fund the rest of the distribution efforts. We also need the Trump administration to act now though, to purchase the doses it has negotiated with Pfizer and Moderna and to work swiftly to scale, manufacturing to U.S. populations and the world. This can be fixed. If it is fixed, my team will be able to get at least 100 million vaccinations done in my first 100 days.
Joe Biden: (11:17)
The third thing I’m going to ask in the 100 days, it should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school. If Congress provides the funding we need to protect students, educators, and staff, if states and cities put strong public health measures in place that we all follow, then my team will work to see that a majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days. That’s right. We’ll look to have the most schools open that we can possibly in 100 days, if Congress provides the funding we need. It’s not a secret how to do it. Masking, vaccinations, opening schools. These are the three key goals for my first 100 days, but we’ll still have much to do in the year ahead and sadly much difficulty as well.
Joe Biden: (12:18)
We’ll be far, far from done, yet it’s possible after 100 days we’ll be much further along in the fight against this pandemic. And I’m grateful to the members of my COVID team that I’d like to introduce to you now who will lead the way. I’m really proud of this group. For secretary of health and education, I nominate Javier Becerra, Becerra, excuse me. He currently is the Attorney General of California leading the second largest Justice Department in America, only behind the United States Department of Justice. And for nearly 25 years before that he was a Congressman representing Los Angeles, one of the largest, America’s largest and most diverse cities.
Joe Biden: (13:06)
Javier spent a career fighting to expand access to healthcare, reducing racial health disparities, protecting the Affordable Care Act and take on powerful special interests who prey on profit off of people’s health from opioid manufacturers to big tobacco. During this pandemic he’ll protect the safety of the frontline healthcare workers, rooted out the fraud from the bad actors to take advantage of people. And he stood up for homeowners trying to pay their mortgages during this devastating economic crisis. There are things he’s already fought for and accomplished in many cases. And as secretary, HHS secretary, he will skillfully oversee the CDC and the FDA, Medicare and Medicaid. No matter what happens in the Supreme court, he’ll lead our efforts to build on the Affordable Care Act. He’ll work to dramatically expand coverage and take bold steps to lower healthcare and prescription drug costs. Javier is a key leader who leads a key agency charged with protecting the health and wellness of the American people. He’s also the first Latino leading the HHS. The son of a working family class, working class immigrant family that came from Mexico, a true public servant who’s dedicated his career to the service of the people and the service of this country that we all love.
Joe Biden: (14:40)
To serve as coordinator of the COVID-19 response team, I’m turning to a world-class manager and leader. I’ve known Jeff for a long time from the first and last days of the Obama and Biden White House and throughout the campaign and now the transition. There’s no one else that you’d want to help manage some of the most consequential and complex priorities of a country.
Joe Biden: (15:02)
…some of the most consequential and complex priorities of a country. Director of national economic council for President Obama, acting director for the office of management and budget he’s there, was there, during the great recession, as he went from crisis to recovery, to resurgence in eight years. He was there to lead the team and help implement the Affordable Care Act and get healthcare.gov up, and working at a critical moment. That was a monumental feat that required vision patience, experience, fortitude, and real expertise. Well-respected across the aisle and around the country from business to labor leaders, to entrepreneurs, to educators, chairman of the board, the children’s national medical center, one of the world’s top children’s hospitals, Jeff knows how to build and lead a team, how to identify and solve problems and how to fully mobilize the federal government on behalf of the health, safety, and prosperity of the American people.
Joe Biden: (16:04)
Jeff Zients, thank you for be willing to do this again. The surgeon general of the United States, I nominate, a man who could do any of these jobs, I think, but Dr. Vivek Murthy, he’s worked with me for a long time. He’s a renowned physician and research scientist, a trusted national leader on healthcare. And for me, a trusted advisor during the campaign and transition. This will be the second time serving as America’s doctor having served in this role under President Obama. [inaudible 00:16:36] During his tenure, he took on some of the most pressing public health issues we face, [inaudible 00:16:43] excuse me, from the opioid crisis, to threats to America’s mental health. I’ve asked Dr. Murphy to serve again as surgeon general, but with expanded responsibilities. He will be a key public voice on the COVID response to restore public trust and faith in science and medicine. One of the reasons doc, I asked you to do this, when you speak people, listen. They trust you. You have a way of communicating.
Joe Biden: (17:12)
They can just see it in your eyes. I mean, it sincerely, it’s a really, really important thing to be communicated now, when people aren’t so much doubt. He’ll also be a key advisor to me and help lead all government approach to broader public health issues. We’ve talked a lot about the need to vastly increased focus on mental health of the country, addiction and substance use disorders, social and environmental detriments to health, and much more. So I’m really looking forward. And thank you for doing this above all, I believe as well as any person I’ve ever worked with, Vivek can help restore faith in this country as a place of possibilities, the son of Indian immigrants who raised their children to always believe in the promise of America. Dr. Murphy will be one of my most trusted public health and medical advisers.
Joe Biden: (18:09)
And I’m grateful. I mean, this sincerely, Vivek. I’m grateful for your willingness to continue to stay in public service. And for director of the Center for Disease Control, the CDC and prevention, I might add. I appoint Rochelle Walensky. She’s Chief of Infectious Disease at one of the country’s most preeminent hospitals, Massachusetts General in Boston, a distinguished professor at Harvard Medical School and a world-class physician. One of the nations foremost experts on testing, treatment and eradication of viruses. She has served on the front lines, on the COVID crisis. She’s conducted groundbreaking research on vaccine delivery, including how to reach underserved communities that are too often hit first, hardest, and treated last. Dr. Walensky’s work was instrumental in helping the world mitigate the public health crisis of HIV AIDS. It inspired her as a young doctor to pursue her pioneering research in virus containment.
Joe Biden: (19:22)
Now she’ll bring her expertise to bear against COVID-19. She’s uniquely qualified to restore morale and public trust. She’ll marshal our finest scientists and public health experts as CDC to turn the tide on this urgent crisis we’re facing today. Because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, I concluded that I wanted, we needed, a COVID-19 equity task force. To chair that, to chair it, I appoint Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. One of the country’s foremost experts on healthcare disparities, Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health and Management at Yale School of Medicine, founding director of Yale’s Equity Research and Innovation Center. And co-chair of my COVID-19 transition advisory board. Dr. Nunez-Smith will lead our efforts to provide care to the communities most in need and most effected by the pandemic and often overlooked. She’ll ensure that fairness and equity are at the center of every part of our response.
Joe Biden: (20:36)
This is a central front in our fight against this pandemic. And I’m grateful Dr. Nunez-Smith will lead this charge. And finally, as both head of my national Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and my chief medical advisor on COVID-19, I’m pleased to say that Dr. Tony Fauci will be a member of my COVID team. By now, Tony needs, Dr. Fauci needs no introduction, but he’ll have my gratitude when I’m president, the seventh president, he will have served. We know each other and we’ve known each other for a long time. And I’m so grateful when I called him almost before I asked, he said, “Yes.” I’ve seen him take on HIV AIDS, H1N1, Ebola, Zika, COVID-19 and every infectious disease in between over nearly 40 years of service to our country, Dr. Fauci is trusted, a truth teller, a patriot. Like every good doctor, he’ll tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know, what I need to know, not what I want to know.
Joe Biden: (21:48)
This is my core COVID healthcare team. Before January 20th, we’ll be adding more leaders to oversee vaccine distribution, the supply chain, testing, and other key functions to each of you on this team, you have my gratitude. And I mean that, you have my gratitude for answering the call to serve and to your families. I know many of you are making real sacrifices to do this. Thank you. And to your families. I say, thank you directly. We couldn’t do this without them or without you, and the family supporting this. And to the American people I know we’ve all had a lot of sleepless nights this year. So many of you staring at the ceiling at night worrying “My God, what happens? What happens if it strikes my family? What happens if I lose my insurance? What happens? Am I going to be okay? Is my family going to be okay?” All I can tell you is the truth. We’re in a very dark winter things may well get worse before they get better. A vaccine may soon be available.
Joe Biden: (22:56)
We need to level with one another. It’ll take longer than we would like to distribute it to all corners of the country, depending on how it gets started off between now and the time I’m sworn in. We’ll need to persuade enough Americans to take the vaccine. Many of them have become very cynical about its usefulness. It’s daunting, but I promise you that we’ll make progress starting on day one. We didn’t get into this mess quickly. It’s going to take time to fix, but we can do this. That’s the truth. I’m telling you the truth, is what this team, Vice President-Elect Harris, and I will always do. Give it to you straight from the shoulder, as Roosevelt used to say. This is the toughest challenge America’s ever faced. One of the toughest. We know that we can overcome and heal together as one nation. For all of you on the front lines, the healthcare professionals, first responders, grocery store workers, delivery truck drivers, educators, parents, our children. I say, thank you, but we can do this. We can do this.
Joe Biden: (24:14)
I want to thank you for everything you’ve done to get us through this crisis so far, we’re never going to give up on you, I promise you. We’ll never give up on our country. We can do this. There’s nothing we’ve ever failed to do when we decided to do it together. Together, that’s America. So, all those who’ve lost in this pandemic, all those who are sick and suffering, our hearts go out to you. Many of us know what it’s like. May God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you for listening. Now, I’d like to turn it over to the team, starting with our next secretary of health and human service. Xavier Becerra. And Xavier, thank you for being willing to take on the responsibility.
Xavier Beccera: (25:11)
Along with Carolina, my wife, and Natalia, Olivia, Clarisa, and Yvonne, greetings from California. Mr. President-Elect, Madam Vice President-Elect, I am honored and excited to join your team. The mission of the Department of Health and Human Services has never been as vital or as urgent as it is today. The COVID pandemic and its economic fall would have thrust families into crisis. Too many Americans are sick or have lost loved ones. Too many have lost their jobs. And with that, their healthcare and hope. You have made it clear. Mr. President-Elect that to build back a prosperous America, we need a healthy America. That then will be job one for your team at HHS. 55 years ago, during another time of hardship, former health secretary and fellow Californian, John Gardner said, what we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems. Gardner went on to help president Lyndon Johnson build a great society ushering and Medicare, Medicaid, and civil rights that brought greater equity, greater opportunity and greater hope to all Americans.
Xavier Beccera: (26:23)
Now it’s our turn to discover the breathtaking opportunities before us in the midst of this hardship and pain. It’s our turn to build up and to backup our doctors and medical professionals, our hospitals and clinics battling the Coronavirus, our turn to restore faith and confidence in our leaders to deliver solutions that unite and heal us and inoculate us from fear. Our turn to spur our brightest minds to launch the next generation of innovative medicines and cures. And it is our turn to build a nation where, as the President-Elect so often says healthcare is a right, not a privilege. At HHS, tackling pandemics, saving lives, keeping us healthy should be our calling card. And we won’t forget that there is a second H in HHS, the human services, the work we do for our children, seniors, and disabled, they will stand tall in a Biden Harris, HHS.
Xavier Beccera: (27:25)
Almost a year ago on New Year’s Day, my father Manuel passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family. We got to celebrate Christmas together. And when the end came, my dad knew we were there with him. No one, no one should ever have to die alone in a hospital bed, loved ones forced to stay away. That seems so contrary to the values of a great nation. The values that drew my parents, like generations before and after them to come to America, Manuel and Maria Theresa had only their health and hope when they arrived in California, a road construction worker with a sixth grade education and a clerical worker who arrived in her teens from Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico. As they help build a better California, they built a pretty good partnership that lasted 67 years. And while they never got to experience the inside of a college, they did send their four kids there as well as to the military.
Xavier Beccera: (28:25)
Now, President-Elect Biden has offered me a breathtaking opportunity to work with his team to shape our healthcare future. I shared the president elect and Vice President-Elect’s determination to rebuild unity and civility in America. We know it takes hard work. We know we must do it together. We know it will be key to building critical momentum and support for the prevention and treatment of the coronavirus. Those values and priorities will help us emerge from this pandemic, a stronger, more just, and more equitable nation. Literally, there are millions of small business owners and tens of millions of workers who are counting on us. I am proud to have this chance to implement the President-Elect’s vision for a better America through the challenging assignments that are in store for the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. President-Elect Madam Vice President-Elect, thank you for this opportunity to serve.
Dr. Vivek Murthy: (29:48)
Mr. President-Elect, Madam Vice President-Elect, thank you for your trust and your confidence. I bring greetings and thanks also from my grandmother, Sarojini, my mother and father, Myetraie and Hallegere Murthy…
Dr. Vivek Murthy: (30:03)
[inaudible 00:30:01] My mother and father, Myetraie and Hallegere Murthy, for my sister Rashmi and brother-in-law Ahmed, and for my dear wife Alice and my dear children, [inaudible 00:30:11] and [inaudible 00:00:12], we thank you for this opportunity to serve.
Dr. Vivek Murthy: (30:17)
When I left my role as surgeon general, I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to serve again. And in this moment of crisis, when so many Americans have fallen sick and lost loved ones, when people have lost their jobs and are struggling for childcare, I feel grateful to be able to do everything I can to end this pandemic.
Dr. Vivek Murthy: (30:42)
While this is a daunting task, we absolutely have, as a country, what we need to overcome this virus. We have world-class scientists. We have courageous medical professionals who are risking their lives to care for the ill. We have companies that are on the cusp of delivering vaccines. And most of all, we are blessed with generous and compassionate people all across America, who are stepping up to help those who are struggling. If we work together, we will overcome this pandemic and returned to our lives.
Dr. Vivek Murthy: (31:24)
But COVID-19 is not the only health crisis we face. If anything, it has underscored a host of other epidemics that are devastating families and shortening lifespans. Crises like addiction, including the opiod crisis, our aspiring mental health concerns, our glaring racial health disparities, and the high rates of chronic illness that we face, like diabetes and heart disease. These challenges are both caused by, but also exacerbated by, broader societal issues. From the economic strain so many people are facing to the disconnection and loneliness that many of us feel. In my new expanded role, I will work to bring a health focus to our policies across government so that our schools, our workplaces, and our communities can be forces for strengthening our health and wellbeing.
Dr. Vivek Murthy: (32:26)
But the truth is that the very best policies, and even the best vaccines and treatments, will not heal our nation unless we also overcome the fear, anxiety, anger, and distrust that so many Americans are feeling right now.
Dr. Vivek Murthy: (32:46)
So, more than anything, I will come to this role as a doctor. One who learned the most important lessons about medicine, not in medical school, but from the clinic that my parents opened when they first came to America as immigrants decades ago. As a child, I saw how they took their time, not just to diagnose illnesses, but to ask their patients’ families about their lives, to pour over pictures of children and grandchildren that were pulled from wallets. They listened deeply to people’s stories and their struggles, often running well over their appointment time. And they taught me that the best doctor is not an authority figure who writes prescriptions, but rather a partner in healing. Someone who sees patients in their fullest humanity and empowers them to take charge of their health.
Dr. Vivek Murthy: (33:47)
That is the kind of doctor I have always tried to be. And if confirmed, that is the kind of surgeon general that I will strive to be. I will dedicate myself to caring for every American. Driven always by science and facts, by head and by heart, and endlessly grateful to serve one of the few countries in the world where the grandson of a poor farmer in India could be asked by the president elect to look out for the health of an entire nation. That is a testament to the promise of America. One that I will seek to fulfill every day as surgeon general. Thank you so much. And thank you again, Mr. President-Elect and Madam Vice President-Elect for this opportunity to serve.
Joe Biden: (34:40)
Thank you, Vivek.
Kamala Harris: (34:41)
Speaker 1: (35:03)
Mr. President-Elect, Madam Vice President-Elect, I am honored by the trust you have placed in me to serve the American people during this critical time. I want to thank my amazing husband and our three wonderful sons for answering this call along with me. As all doctors and public servants know, these jobs ask a great deal, not only of us, but of our families. The pandemic that brought me here today is one that struck America and the world more than 30 years ago, because my medical training happened to coincide with some of the most harrowing years of the HIV/AIDS crisis. As a medical student, I saw firsthand how the virus ravaged bodies and communities. Inside the hospital, I witnessed people lose strength and hope. While outside the hospital, I witnessed those same patients, mostly gay men and members of vulnerable communities, be stigmatized and marginalized by their nation and many of its leaders.
Speaker 1: (36:10)
A scientific breakthrough came in 1995 when the FDA approved the first AIDS cocktail and we saw the first glimmers of hope. I’ve dedicated my career ever since to researching and treating infectious diseases and to ending the HIV/AIDS crisis for good. Now, a new virus is ravaging us. It’s striking hardest, once again, at the most vulnerable, the marginalized, the underserved. Nearly 15 million Americans have been infected. Over 280 million loved ones are gone. The pain is accelerating. Our defenses have worn down. We are losing life and hope at an alarming rate.
Speaker 1: (37:06)
I never anticipated I would take on a role helping lead our national response and government service was never part of my plan. But every doctor knows that when a patient is coding, your plans don’t matter. You answer the code. And when the nation is coding, if you are called to serve, you serve. You run to take care of people, to stop the bleeding, to stabilize, to give them hope and a fighting chance to come back stronger. That’s what doctors do. I’m honored to work with an administration that understands that leading with science is the only way to deliver breakthroughs, to deliver hope, and to bring our nation back to full strength.
Speaker 1: (37:56)
To the American people and to each and every one of you at the CDC, I promise to work with you to harness the power of American science, to fight this virus and prevent unnecessary illness and deaths so that we can all get back to our lives. Mr. President-Elect, Madam Vice President-Elect, I thank you for this opportunity.
Joe Biden: (38:27)
Thank you, doctor.
Speaker 2: (38:32)
Mr. President-Elect, Madam Vice President-Elect, thank you so much for this opportunity to serve the American people. I’m proud to go to work with leaders who are deeply committed to science and to centering equity in our response to this pandemic. And not as a secondary concern, not as a box to check, but as a shared value woven into all of the work that we do and prioritized by every member of the Biden-Harris team.
Speaker 2: (39:05)
I’m enormously thankful to my research team and to my colleagues, to President Salovey and the other leadership here at Yale for supporting me in this work. And I’m grateful to all of the researchers and advocates who’ve blazed the trail, whose work on health equity and racial justice too often went unbelieved or overlooked across the generations. Most of all, I’m thankful to my family. To Jesse and our three children for their unwavering support and humor, and to my mother and her mother for modeling kindness, generosity, and courageous leadership through service.
Speaker 2: (39:53)
I have wanted to be a doctor since I was six years old. And I’m a proud general internal medicine physician today. But as I grew up, I came to understand that there were deeper dimensions to health beyond what I saw in the human biology textbooks that I borrowed from my mother’s bookshelf. I grew up on St. Thomas in the US Virgin islands, a place where people too often died too young from preventable conditions. My own father had his first stroke in his 40s and was left paralyzed. I learned there was a term for what we were: An underserved community, marginalized by place and by race. In my medical training, I saw countless patients whose conditions were shaped by factors having nothing to do with science and everything to do with broader social inequity. And now the COVID-19 crisis has laid those inequities bare. It is not a coincidence and it is not a matter of genetics that more than 70% of African-Americans and more than 60% of Latinx Americans personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died from COVID-19.
Speaker 2: (41:18)
The same disparities ingrained in our economy, our housing system, our food system, our justice system, and so many other areas of our society have conspired in this moment to create a grief gap that we cannot ignore.
Speaker 2: (41:37)
It is our societal obligation to ensure equitable access to testing, treatments, and vaccines, equitable support for those who are hurting, and equitable pathways to opportunity as we emerge from this crisis and rebuild, including for those most marginalized communities: The undocumented, the incarcerated, the homeless.
Speaker 2: (42:04)
I’m grateful for this chance to continue this work, to earn trust and to find success through genuine partnerships with the people and communities who’ve been hit the hardest during and before the crisis. On this team, you will be heard, you will be counted, and you will be valued. Thank you.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (42:38)
President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, thank you so much for asking me to be part of this COVID response team. I hope that you don’t mind that a reason that I am sending this video is because a close friend and colleague at the NIH, Dr. Harvey Alter, is receiving the Nobel Prize in Medicine at the same time and we wanted to attend the ceremony at the NIH to show our support. Such an achievement is a reminder of the incredible public servants we have at the NIH and of America’s place as a pioneer in science and medicine.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (43:20)
I believe, as you do, that in the fight against this pandemic, we must lead with science, and that a key piece of our ongoing work is communicating consistently with the American people. Whether it’s maintaining social distancing and not congregating indoors, or the 100 day challenge you described on masking, or to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (43:51)
These actions are bold, but they are doable and essential to help the public avoid unnecessary risks, to help us save lives, reopen schools and businesses, and to eventually beat the pandemic. I look forward to advising you on these most urgent priorities and to work with this team of world-class experts, whom I have known for many years and deeply respect.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (44:21)
I have been through many public health crises before, but this is the toughest one we have ever faced as a nation. The road ahead will not be easy. We have got a lot of hard and demanding work to do in the next year, but as we have done during previous crises, I also know we can get through this pandemic together as a nation. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this effort.
Speaker 3: (45:17)
President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris, I’m honored by your trust in me and humbled by the task at hand, and I am hopeful because of your leadership. As it is for both of you, everything starts with family for me, and I’m forever grateful for the love and support of my wife, our children, and our parents.
Speaker 3: (45:46)
Mr. President-elect, we’ve known each other for a long time, and our relationship has been forged under immense pressure. The severity of the Great Recession, the challenge of implementing the Affordable Care Act, and the daily decisions a White House makes that affects the lives of millions of Americans. You and President Obama knew how to build a team with the right diversity of backgrounds and views, a team to make progress on difficult situations and capture enormous opportunities. That’s what I’ve tried to do throughout my career. I’m not a doctor or a public health expert. In fact, we’ve got the best ones in the world on this team, but I do know management and execution. And the key part of the role you’ve asked me to take on is the last part: Coordinator. It’s about empowering experts, developing a culture of teamwork, and maintaining a focus on strategy and execution. It’s knowing that leadership requires expertise, transparency, and prioritization. It also requires trust, truth, and integrity. To the American people, that’s what this team will provide.
Speaker 3: (47:25)
We will utilize the full capacity of the federal government to get this pandemic under control, to harness and examine the data to expand testing, to deliver equipment and PPE to those on the front lines, to provide resources for schools and businesses to operate safely, to address the racial disparities and inequities of this pandemic, to rejoin the global fight against COVID-19, because no one is safe until everyone is safe. And with our collective expertise, we will oversee the rollout of the vaccine, which as the President-elect said, will be one of the greatest operational challenges our country has ever faced. And we also will pull the country together across governments at the federal, state, and local levels, and across the private sector. And as we begin this work, Mr. President-elect, I remember what you told me when we were implementing the Affordable Care Act. Your message was, “I know this is no small task. I know you and the team are feeling tremendous pressure to succeed, and we want and need the team to pull this off.” You then said, “I know you and the team can do this, but I need you to promise me one thing: That you will always, always give it to us straight, because we have to understand the challenge we’re facing. Because most of all, we’re in this together, and together we can do this.”
Speaker 3: (49:21)
President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and the American people, this team will always give it to you straight. The work ahead will not be easy, but we know what needs to be done and we will get it done together. Thank you.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: (50:05)
Well, congratulations, Mr. President-elect, on nominating and appointing a most outstanding team to get this pandemic under control. And thank you to these accomplished physicians, and experts, and public servants for answering the call to serve the American people in this critical hour of need. Over Thanksgiving, the President-elect and I called healthcare workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic, just to thank them. We wanted to express our gratitude and our nation’s gratitude for everything they have been doing, for every sacrifice they have made.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: (50:50)
That day, I spoke with two registered nurses, Maureen in Pennsylvania and Talisa in Illinois. They shared stories that we’ve all heard. We’ve all heard the stories about grandmothers and grandfathers, loved ones and friends, spending their last moments alone. We’ve all heard about nurses and physicians who are physically and mentally exhausted, trying to keep up with ever-increasing case loads. Those on the front line who say to each other, “It’s a matter not of when, but when they will get the virus.” So, “It is a matter of when and not if they get the virus.” This is what they’re saying to each other every day. We’ve all heard about health care workers without the supplies and equipment they need to care for patients and save lives.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: (51:43)
So today we have a message for Talisa, Maureen, and all Americans. Help is on the way, and it is long overdue. The scale of this pandemic is heartbreaking. As you know and have heard, almost 15 million cases, more than 2,800 deaths in a single day. And then there is the economic devastation, the lost jobs, the small businesses shuttered, not to mention what’s happening to our schools, the parents and teachers who are being stretched to their limits, and the toll it’s taking on the mental health and wellbeing of our children who risk each day falling behind. Opening our schools and economy safely and responsibly, getting this virus under control, all of it starts with listening to experts and leaders like these. Americans who reflect the very best of our nation. They are top physicians, public health experts, and public servants, and they are the team that the American people need and deserve, to make sure testing and treatment are free for everyone, to make sure vaccines are safe, free, and equitably distributed, to make sure we are better prepared for future pandemics and other health threats, and to make sure quality, affordable healthcare is available to all.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: (53:21)
From an early age, I saw the life saving work that our healthcare professionals provide, especially for the most vulnerable among us. You see, my mother was a breast cancer researcher, and my sister and I spent many hours roaming the hallways of the hospital where she worked. I’m sure your kids have too. And it’s why I actually later co-founded an auxiliary group to help patients at the County Hospital in Oakland, California, more than 20 years ago. It’s why we need to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act, and it’s why we have to listen to front line healthcare workers like Maureen and Talisa. In fact, during our conversation, Talisa said, “We wouldn’t send our soldiers to battle without the gear they need, and we shouldn’t then send our doctors and our nurses to fight this pandemic without the gear they need.” And of course, she’s right. And President-elect Biden and I, along with this world-class team, we’ll make sure we are doing everything we can to save lives and contain this pandemic once and for all.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: (54:37)
Getting this virus under control is one of the defining challenges of our time, and we will do what the American people have always done in the face of a great challenge. We will stand together and we will defeat it. Thank you.