Nov 9, 2020
Joe Biden COVID-19 Briefing Transcript November 9: Urges Americans to Wear Masks
Joe Biden gave remarks on COVID-19 on November 9 after receiving a briefing. He said there will be a “very dark winter” ahead and urged Americans to wear masks. Read the transcript of his speech here.
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Joe Biden: (00:04)
As I said on Saturday, I’m humbled by the trust this country and the American people have placed in me and Vice President Elect Harris. And we’re ready to get to work, addressing the needs of the American people. Today our work begins. It starts with doing everything possible to get the COVID-19 under control so that we can reopen our businesses safely and sustainably, resume our lives and put this pandemic behind us.
Joe Biden: (00:34)
And we just received positive news in this fight, announcement of progress made for a successful vaccine. Soon, expectation will run the process of [inaudible 00:00:47] and approvals. And the process results must also be grounded in science and fully transparent so the American people can have every confidence in any approved vaccine is safe and effective. At the same time, it’s clear that this vaccine, even if approved will not be widely available for many months yet to come. The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing. And although we are not in office yet, I’m just laying out what we expect to do and hope can be done, some of it between now and the time we are sworn in. So the purpose of this is to let you know what we’re going to do once sworn in.
Joe Biden: (01:30)
There’s a need for bold action to fight this pandemic. We’re still facing a very dark winter. There are now nearly 10 million COVID cases in the United States. Last week we topped 120,000 new cases on multiple successive days. Infection rates are going up. Hospitalizations are going up. Deaths are going up. This crisis claimed nearly a thousand American lives a day, nearly 240,000 deaths so far. The projections still indicate we could lose 200,000 more lives in the coming months before a vaccine can be made widely available.
Joe Biden: (02:11)
So we can’t forego the important work that needs to be done between now and then to get our country through the worst wave yet in this pandemic, to reduce the spread, to save lives. So that’s why today I’ve named the COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board comprised of distinguished public health experts to help our transition team translate the Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan into action. A blueprint that we can put in place as soon as Kamala and I are sworn into office on January 20th, 2021. And we will seek to add other members to this board to bring additional important perspective on public health and expertise throughout the transition.
Joe Biden: (02:56)
This group will advise on detailed plans, built on a bedrock of science and to keep compassion, empathy and care for every American at its core, making rapid testing widely available… More widely available, much more widely available, and building a core of contact tracers who will track and curb this disease while we prioritize getting vaccines first to the most at risk populations, developing clear and detailed guidance, providing the necessary resources for small businesses, schools, childcare centers to reopen and operate safely and effectively during the pandemic, protecting both workers and the public, scaling up productive lifesaving treatments and therapeutics. And when it’s ready, making sure an approved vaccine is distributed equitably and efficiently and free for every American.
Joe Biden: (03:53)
With cases rising once more, it’s imperative that we ramp up our production of personal protective equipment, to make sure our brave healthcare workers have what they need to do battle safely against this virus. We’re going to get states, cities and tribes, the test and the supplies they need. We’re going to protect vulnerable populations who are at risk, most at risk from this virus, older Americans and those with preexisting conditions. We’re going to address the health and economic disparities that mean this virus is hitting the Black, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islanders, Native American communities, harder than white communities. Focusing on in these communities is one of our priorities, not an afterthought.
Joe Biden: (04:39)
The bottom line, I will spare no effort to turn this pandemic around once we’re sworn in on January 20th, to get our kids back to school safely, our businesses growing, and our economy running at full speed again, and to get an approved vaccine manufactured and distributed as quickly as possible to as many Americans as possible free of charge. We’ll follow the science, we’ll follow the science. Let me say that again. And we’ll adjust the new data when it comes in and we’ll listen and work in cooperation with governors and local leaders of both parties who are fighting this virus in their communities this very day.
Joe Biden: (05:23)
There is so much good work happening at state and local levels across the country, governors, mayors, they’re stepping up. The advisory board will listen and learn lessons from their experience. Because we know that we won’t fully defeat COVID-19 until we defeat it everywhere, my advisory council also includes experts on global health security so that we can restore U.S. global leadership to fight this pandemic. This is a crisis that affects everyone.
Joe Biden: (05:52)
As I’ve said throughout this campaign, I will be a president for every American. This election is over. It’s time to put aside the partisanship and the rhetoric that designed to demonize one another. It’s time to end the politicization of basic responsible public health steps like mask wearing and social distancing. We have to come together to heal the soul of this country so that we can effectively address this crisis, as one country, where hardworking Americans have each other’s backs. And where we’re united in our shared goal, defeating this virus.
Joe Biden: (06:31)
As we work toward a safe and effective vaccine, we know that the single most effective thing we can do to stop the spread of COVID is wear a mask. The head of the CDC warned this fall, that for the foreseeable future, a mask remains the most potent weapon against the virus. Today’s news does not change that urgent reality. I won’t be president until January 20th, but my message today is to everyone, is this, it doesn’t matter who you voted for, where you stood before election day, it doesn’t matter your party, your point of view, we can save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democrat or Republican lives, American lives. Maybe we’d save a life of a person who stocks the shelf at your local grocery store. Maybe saves the life of a member of your place of worship. Maybe saves the lives of one of your children’s teachers. Maybe saves your life.
Joe Biden: (07:40)
So please, I implore you, wear a mask, do it for yourself, do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement, but it is a good way to start pulling the country together. I want to be very clear, the goal of mask wearing is not to make your life less comfortable or take something away from you. It’s to give something back to all of us, a normal life. The goal is to get back to normal as fast as possible and masks are critical in doing that. It won’t be forever, but that’s how we’ll get our nation back, back up to speed economically. So we can go back to celebrating birthdays and holidays together. So we can attend sporting events together. So we can get back to the lives and connections we shared before the pandemic.
Joe Biden: (08:36)
It doesn’t matter whether or not we always agree with one another. It doesn’t matter who you voted for. We are Americans and our country is under threat. We’re now called to do the same thing that generations of proud Americans have done when faced with a crisis throughout our history. Rise above our differences to Defend the strength and the vitality of our nation. That’s the character of patriots, that’s the character of America. We have to do this together. Wearing a mask seems like a small act. Maybe you think your individual choice won’t make any difference. Throughout our history, throughout the history of our nation, we’ve seen over and over how small acts add up to enormous achievements. It’s the weight of many small acts together that bend the arc of history.
Joe Biden: (09:33)
I know there’s nothing that the American people can’t accomplish when we work together, as one people, with one mission. We can get this virus under control, I promise you. We can rebuild our economy back better than it was before. We can address race based disparities that damage our country. It’s in our power. So let’s wear a mask. Let’s get to work. Thank you. May God bless you. And for all those who have lost somebody, our heart goes out to you. We know what it’s like. Our heart goes out to you. May God protect our healthcare workers and all Americans. Thank you.