Oct 23, 2020
Joe Biden Plan to Combat COVID-19 Speech Transcript October 23
Joe Biden gave a speech in Wilmington Delaware on October 23 to address his plan to beat COVID-19. Read the transcript of his remarks here.
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Joe Biden: (01:46)
Good afternoon. My fellow Americans, last night, we saw the President of the United States, lie to the American people and repeatedly lie about the state of this pandemic. We saw him refuse to take responsibility for the crisis that should have been met with real presidential leadership. Instead it has cost hundreds of thousands of Americans lives and pushed millions into poverty. We saw him diminish the pain felt by so many Americans. President Trump said, “We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away. We’re learning to live with it.” There are quotes, but as I told them last night, We’re not learning to live with it, we’re learning to die with it.” This is a dark winter ahead. Already more than 220,000 people in the United States of America have lost their lives to this virus. 220,000 empty chairs at dinner tables all across this country. My heart goes out to every single person who’s had to endure the agony of saying goodbye to someone they loved and adored over a video chat, who couldn’t gather their closest friends, even their close family, to grieve together at a funeral mass or a funeral service.
Joe Biden: (03:07)
And worse yet, a new study from Columbia University suggests that anywhere between 130,000 and 210,000 of those deaths were avoidable. A leading medical journal in America, quite frankly in the world, wrote an unprecedented editorial. To the best of my knowledge, they’ve never written anything like this. They criticized President Trump’s quote, “Dangerously incompetent” end of quote, response. And stated that he quote, “Took a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.” COVID-19 dwarfs anything we faced in recent history. And it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. The virus is surging in almost every state. We passed 4.8 million cases. And when Trump was asked this week, what he’d do differently to get the pandemic response right from the start. His answer was and I quote, “Not much, not much.” As many as 210,000 avoidable deaths, but there’s not much he would do differently. The United States is 4% of the entire world’s population. Yet we make up 20% of all the deaths worldwide. If this is a success, what’s a failure look like?
Joe Biden: (04:48)
We’re more than eight months into this crisis, and the president still doesn’t have a plan. He’s given up, he’s quit on you. He’s quit on your family. He’s quit on America. He just wants us to grow numb and resign to the horrors of this death toll and the pain it’s causing so many Americans. But he can’t erase his own words or deeds. In February, he knew just how dangerous this virus was. He told Bob Woodward in a taped interview, “This disease was deadly, far worse than the flu.” But instead of telling us how bad it was going to be, according to the New York times, his administration only gave Wall Street investors a head up heads up. And they made a bundle doing something called selling short, or betting against the market. So Wall Street knew what was coming, while the rest of us took the full brunt of it. In June, when we began to see the resurgence of COVID-19, I called out President Trump for wavering and waving the white flag of surrender to the virus.
Joe Biden: (06:10)
But then, it was as if he decided to go on offense for the virus, holding rallies with no masks, no social distancing, where people contracted the virus. Inviting the virus into the White House, hosting what Dr. Fauci called super spreader event. Endangering more people’s lives by telling the public, Don’t worry, don’t worry about the disease. Don’t let it dominate you.” How many people from Kristin and Arizona will end up suffering because their loved one listened to the President? Kristin said her dad voted for Trump, listened to him, believed him that the virus wasn’t a big deal. Then her dad became infected and died. Kristin said that her dad’s only preexisting condition… This is her quote. “The only preexisting issue was trusting Donald Trump.” End of quote. Even after contracting the virus himself, Donald Trump still, still refuses to promote universal mask wearing, which could have saved nearly 100,000 lives and could still save over 100,000 lives in the next few months.
Joe Biden: (07:28)
The longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he gets. We don’t have to be held prisoner by this administration’s failures. We can choose a different path. We can do what Americans have always done, come together and meet the challenge with grit, compassion, and determination. And today I’m going to tell you exactly what I plan to do if I have the honor of being elected your next president. I’ll immediately put in place a national strategy that will position our country to finally get ahead of this virus and get back our lives. I’ll reach out to every governor in every state, red and blue, as well as mayors and local officials during transition, to find out what support they need and how much of it they need. I’ll ask the new Congress to put a bill on my desk by the end of January, with all the resources necessary to see how both our public health and our economic response can be seen through the end, what is needed.
Joe Biden: (08:35)
Look, a pandemic doesn’t play favorites, nor will I. As I said, no red states, no blue states, just the United States. United in our response, united in our purpose to stop the spread of COVID-19 and beat this virus. First, I’ll go to every governor, urge them mandate mask wearing in their states. And if they refuse, I’ll go to the mayors and county executives and get local masking requirements in place nationwide. As president I’ll mandate masquerade in all federal buildings and all interstate transportation. Because masks save lives, period. Just look what happened in Arizona. The Republican Governor initially tried to bar local governments from implementing mandates on their communities. What happened? In June, Arizona got hit with a surge of cases. Hospitals were flooded. The State Health System was overwhelmed. So cities and counties appealed to the Governor’s ruling. They imposed their own local mandates covering most of the state. The result? Cases fell by 75%.
Joe Biden: (09:49)
Wearing a mask is not a political statement. It’s a scientific imperative. It’s a point of patriotic pride, so we can pull our country out of this godawful spiral we’re in. And it’s a testament to the values we were taught by our families and by our faiths, love thy neighbor as thyself. Second, I’ll put a national testing plan in place, with a goal of testing as many people each day as we’re currently testing each week. A seven fold increase. There’s a key difference in this campaign between Donald Trump and me, I believe in testing, Donald Trump does not. I believe in science. I believe in public health officials. I believe in the example of other countries, which prove that widespread testing is needed to regain the health of our nation, to reopen safely, and critically, to stay open. Every school, every worker, every American should have easy access to regular, reliable, free testing. To achieve this, we need to increase both lab based diagnostic testing, where the results back within 24 hours or less, and faster, cheaper screening tests that you can take right at home or in school.
Joe Biden: (11:17)
Look, we have right now isn’t anywhere near good enough. States are still improvising on the fly. School districts are still mostly on their own. And many Americans still don’t know when it’s important to get a test or how. This isn’t beyond our capacity to master. Not if we’re directing a coordinated effort across government and the private sector, instead of leaving chaos to reign. We’ll manufacture the lab supplies needed to make sure we have enough tests. And we’ll tap more of our nation’s lab capacity, so you can get your test results more quickly. We’ll build a national core of contact tracers to work closely with trusted organizations in these communities that are most at risk. We’ll also take steps to ensure that no one has to choose between getting a test and putting food on the table. And that no one, no one is scared that being tested for COVID might jeopardize their immigration status. The only way we’ll defeat this virus is if we defeat it everywhere.
Joe Biden: (12:35)
Third point I’d like to make is, we’ll close the personal protective equipment, that PPE gap, and get the gear outwards needed. Every healthcare worker will have a reliable supply of properly fitted N95 mask. It’s unconscionable. There are more than eight months into this crisis, and frontline healthcare workers are still rationing their personal protective equipment. As president I’ll use the full power of the Defense Production Act to drive the manufacturing of personal protective equipment, masks, gloves, gowns, and more, and ensure that it’s distributed equitably. Look, we won’t stop until the nation’s supply exceeds the demand and our stockpile is replenished, especially in hearted areas and in communities that are disproportionally impacted by the virus. I will appoint a fully empowered supply commander, who’s in charge of filling in the gaps, who’ll make sure we can manufacture critical supplies right here at home, so we’re not dependent on other countries in this crisis.
Joe Biden: (13:49)
Fourth, we’ll provide consistent, reliable, trusted, detailed, nationwide guidance, and technical support for reopening safely, and the resources to make it happen. We need a single source of guidance that we can trust, where we know the information won’t change by for any reason, other than the science that guides it. Not political expediency, not public image. It won’t be easy as to open or close. Social distancing isn’t an on or off thing. And we’re learning more every day about the virus and how it spreads. We need to be able to adapt and adjust our behavior to responsibly respond appropriately. But schools and businesses can’t make responsible decisions if they don’t have the information, the science. It’s not just more detail effective guidance they need. It’s consultations and technical support, so people have a place to turn with their questions. It’s having a government that’s in your corner, not a government that’s turned it’s back on you.
Joe Biden: (15:01)
And once we get our federal state and local governments working together, once those universal masking, enough PPE and testing to go around, science backed guidance to help us make the right decision, then we can get our kids back to school safely, our businesses growing and our economy running again without wasting another minute. As I said last night, I’m not going to shut down the economy. I’m not going to shut down the country. I’m going to shut down the virus. And finally, we focus on developing safe and effective treatments and distributing a safe and effective vaccine. President Trump claims he found a cure. Well, let me tell you. Yet we have 1000 people dying each day. More than 40,000 people are in hospitals right now, battling the virus. Lifesaving therapies shouldn’t be just available to the wealthy and the well connected. We need to make sure they’re available to everybody, available and affordable.
Joe Biden: (16:10)
It’s also possible we could learn any day that one of these vaccines currently in trial is showing itself to be effective. That will be a wonderful day for our people and people around the world, everywhere. Whether it comes next week or in the next two months. But it will still be many months before any vaccine is widely available. And we need a president who will take responsibility for making sure it gets to every single person in this country, in a way that’s equitable and accountable. We need a president who in the meantime is doing his job to protect the American people. Once we have a safe and effective vaccine, it has to be free to everyone, whether or not you’re insured. Let me say that again. The vaccine must be free and freely available to everyone. Is this just not one more reason why it’s so despicable that Donald Trump is fighting in the middle of a pandemic, to get the U.S Supreme Court to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, which I worked so damn hard to get the votes for.
Joe Biden: (17:23)
Under the ACA, insurers are required to cover recommended vaccines for free. So overturning the ACA would mean people have to pay to get the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s wrong, very, very wrong. Unlike Donald Trump, I believe healthcare isn’t a privilege, I think it’s a right. That’s why as president I’ll protect and build on the ACA by adding a public option that will compete with private plans to expand coverage and lower healthcare costs across the board. I’ll bring down drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. I’ll make sure Americans have insurance. Those with insurance have access to free COVID-19 vaccine. And I’ll direct the Federal Government to bulk purchase as many doses as are necessary of the COVID-19 vaccine, so we can provide it free to those who are uninsured, underinsured, or Medicaid eligible. Throughout all of this, throughout all of this, yes, Mr. President, I’ll listen to the scientist and I’ll empower them.
Joe Biden: (18:41)
I know how much President Trump has damaged faith in our institutions, in our leaders, in Government itself. We have to rebuild the trust between the public and it’s public servants. It’s one of the most difficult task we’ll face in the coming years. But if I’m elected president, I’ll always give it to you, as FDR said, “Straight from the shoulder.” I’ll deliver on my promises. I’ll listen to the American people, no matter what their politics. I’ll let the doctors and the scientists speak freely, so you can make the best decision possible for yourself and for your family. And I won’t let four years of Donald Trump rob us of most fundamental American qualities, our hope in the future and our faith in ourselves. We can beat this virus. We’re not too divided to achieve big things. We’re America. We can do this. We’ve never failed when we worked together. Imagine, imagine a true nationally coordinated plan where we spare no expense, so our schools have the resources needed to reopen with full health and safety protocols in place.
Joe Biden: (19:52)
Imagine every small business getting a restart package that helps cover the cost of installing plexiglass, providing PPE and more, to minimize the risk of exposure for customers and workers. Imagine our older Americans and people with disabilities having the peace of mind that comes with trusting that the public health system is working for them. Imagine, instead of staying locked up in their rooms, they’re able to hug their grandchildren or other those who they love and haven’t been able to see. Imagine if you’re a member of a community that has been hit particularly hard, black, Latino, Asian Americans, or Native Americans. Imagine a public health and economic response that treats your needs as a priority, not as an afterthought. Imagine a day in the not too distant future, when you could enjoy dinner with your friends and your family, maybe even go out to a movie. When you can celebrate your birthday, weddings, graduations, surrounded by your nearest and dearest friends. That’s the Biden-Harris agenda to beat COVID-19.
Joe Biden: (21:07)
It’s going to take all of us working together. And that’s not hyperbole. All of us working together. Watching out for one another. We’re all still going to have to wear a mask, a practical social distancing a while longer. It’s going to be hard, but if we follow the science and keep faith with one another, I promise you we’ll get through this and come out the other side much faster than the rate we’re going now. Look, you all know this, the American people have always given their best to this country in times of crisis. And this time isn’t any different. I’m not joking when I say this, I think every day about the brave doctors and nurses and hospital workers, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and other first responders who not figuratively, but literally are putting their lives on the line day in and day out to care for people. I think of the essential workers who carried the rest of us on their shoulders through these many months. The grocery store clerks, the delivery clerks, the drivers.
Joe Biden: (22:22)
The folks on the assembly line, the meat packers, and so many more. People too often overlooked, too often overlooked, under compensated. They’ve given the best to their country when we needed them the most. Think of the small businesses who moved heaven and earth to try to take care of their employees and keep their businesses open. And sadly, of all those who couldn’t because they didn’t get the help they were promised. I think in the parents juggling working from home with the added demands of overseeing their child’s educations. I think about the educators who are spending hours learning how to teach online. They’re doing what they always do, giving above and beyond for their students. I think of the families and the communities who’ve stepped up, donating to charities, doing grocery runs for older relatives and neighbors, finding new ways to connect and support one another. That’s the America we know. That’s the United States of America. That’s who we are.
Joe Biden: (23:32)
And like John F. Kennedy, when he committed to take us to the moon, he said, “I refuse to postpone the possibilities that exist for this country.” I refuse to postpone. I refuse to postpone the American purpose that’ll not only lead our country back, but lead the entire world. There’s no challenge. There’s no challenge We cannot meet. No enemy we’re unable to face. No threat we can’t conquer. We stand together united, bound by our common resolve, determination, and values. Folks, together we can harness the unlimited potential of the American people, not just to get back where we were before this virus hit us, but to get back better. I promise you. And you know it in your heart we can do this. We must do this and we will do it together. You know we can do it. This is the United States of America.
Joe Biden: (24:42)
May God bless you all. And may God protect our frontline workers and all those who have lost a loved one. Thank you and keep the faith.