Jan 21, 2021
Joe Biden Speech on COVID-19 Response Transcript January 21
President Joe Biden gave remarks on his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on January 21. Read the transcript of his speech here.
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President Joe Biden: (00:00)
Before I begin today’s announcement, let me take a few moments to thank all the law enforcement folks for all they did, the military personnel, from all across the Federal State and local agencies to secure yesterday’s inaugural activities. And a special thanks to the members of the National Guard from around the country. It was an unprecedented situation.
President Joe Biden: (00:23)
Hopefully, never have to be renewed again. And everyone with the most professionalism and duty and honor that could be expected. As president, as Commander In Chief, I always respect and Revere their service and that of their families. But now to today’s announcement, Vice-President Harris and I were joined by members of our COVID-19 team, response team, and Dr. Tony Fauci, our Chief COVID medical adviser.
President Joe Biden: (00:53)
Xavier Becerra, excuse me, our nominee for Secretary Of Health And Human Services. Dr. Vivek Murthy, our nominee for Surgeon General. Dr. Rochelle Willinsky, she’s going to be the director for the Centers For Disease Control Prevention. And Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who will be leading our equity work and the COVID response. And Jeff Zients and Natalie Quillian, who are managing this whole effort.
President Joe Biden: (01:22)
Yesterday, during my inaugural address, I offered as salient prayer, and silent prayer, it was both salient and silent. I thought it was important that people understand what had happened, that we all pay tribute to the… Our prayers for those 400,000 Americans who’ve lost their lives in this pandemic. On Tuesday, Jill and I, Kamala and Doug, we stood at the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial and joined Americans all across the country to remember those 400,000 moms and dads, husbands, and wives, children, sons, daughters.
President Joe Biden: (02:00)
And I said at that moment, that, “To heal, we must remember.” To heal, we must remember. It’s important to do that as a nation. We must also act though, not just remember. Yet for the past a year, we couldn’t rely on the Federal Government to act with the urgency and focus, and coordination we needed.
President Joe Biden: (02:21)
And we have seen the tragic cost of that failure. Three to 4,000 deaths per day. To date, more than 24 million Americans, 24 million Americans have been infected. To put that in context, America makes up 4% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, and nearly 20% of all the COVID 19 deaths, when we have 4% of the world’s population. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted on blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans who are about four times as likely to be hospitalized, and nearly three times more likely to die from the COVID-19 pandemic than white Americans.
President Joe Biden: (03:09)
Hospitals are out of beds. Businesses are closed for good. Schools are caught in between. And while the vaccine provides so much hope, the rollout has been a dismal failure thus far. So I understand the despair and frustration of so many Americans, and how they’re feeling. I understand why many governors, mayors, county officials, tribal leaders feel like they’re left on their own without a clear national plan to get them through the crisis.
President Joe Biden: (03:39)
Let me be very clear. Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better. The Memorial we held two nights ago will not be our last one, unfortunately. The death toll will likely top 500,000 next month. The cases will continue to mount. We didn’t get into this mess overnight. That’s going to take months for us to turn things around. But let me be equally clear, we will get through this.
President Joe Biden: (04:08)
We will defeat this pandemic. And to a nation waiting for action let me be the clearest on this point, help is on the way. Today, I am unveiling a national strategy on COVID-19, and executive actions to beat this pandemic. This plan reflects the ideas I set forward during the campaign and further refined over the past three months. It consists of my transitions teams, the taskforce, Tony Fauci, and the team here today, and other experts put this plan together.
President Joe Biden: (04:45)
Our national strategy is comprehensive. It’s based on science, not politics. It’s based on truth, not denial. And it’s detailed. You can review this entire plan, this entire plan by going to WhiteHouse.gov. It is so detailed, it’s 198 pages. And complete detail, what we’re going to do. Our plan starts with mounting an aggressive, safe, and effective vaccination campaign to meet our goal of administering 100 million shots, in our first 100 days in office, we’re on day one.
President Joe Biden: (05:26)
This will be one of the greatest operational challenges our nation has ever undertaken, and I’m committed to getting it done. We’re committed to getting it done. And as I explained last week, we’ll move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated for free, and create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams to get shots in people’s arms, and to increase vaccine supply, and get it out the door as fast as possible. Yesterday, we got started.
President Joe Biden: (05:57)
We directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, to start standing up the first federally supported community vaccination centers with the goal of standing up 100 centers within the next month. The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention will launch the federal Pharmacy Program to make vaccines available to communities and their local pharmacies, beginning early within, I think it’s by the seventh or eighth, February. In very early February.
President Joe Biden: (06:27)
We’ll also task the Department Of Health and Human Services to prepare and expand the pool of medical professionals who can administer the vaccine. Who can administer the vaccine. And to ensure we have enough vaccinators, the people doing the vaccines, to meet the nation’s needs and quickly. In addition to this effort, our administration, will be asking Congress for the funds to grow the public health workforce.
President Joe Biden: (06:58)
We also, are going to take immediate steps to partner with governors, mayors, and other local officials, who we’ve been talking to all along, who are on the front lines of this fight. We directed FEMA to establish a COVID response liaison for each state. Which means every state will have a point person at the federal level to maximize cooperation between the Federal Government and the States. And where it falls short, to be made known about it immediately.
President Joe Biden: (07:28)
This is a model we use to respond to Hurricane Sandy, which I was deeply involved with. And in just a few moments, I’m going to sign a declaration to immediately begin reimbursing States 100% for the use of their National Guards to help COVID relief efforts. Something Democrats and Republicans governors alike have called for. But the brutal truth is, it’s going to take eight months before we can get the majority of Americans vaccinated.
President Joe Biden: (08:00)
So while we increase vaccinations, we’re going to take steps necessary now to slow the spread of the disease as well. One of our 100 day challenges is asking the American people to mask up for the first 100 days, the next 99 days. But masks can become a partisan issue, unfortunately.
President Joe Biden: (08:24)
But it’s a patriotic act. But for a few months to wear a mask, no vaccines, the fact is that they’re the single best thing we can do. They’re even more important than the vaccines because they take time to work. And if we do this as Americans, the experts say by wearing a mask from now until April, we’d save more than 50,000 lives going forward; 50,000 lives.
President Joe Biden: (08:51)
So I’m asking every American to mask up for the next hundred days. Yesterday, I signed an executive action that requires mask and social distancing on federal property. Today we’ll be signing an additional executive action to extend masking requirements on interstate travel, like on trains, planes, and buses. And, in light of the new COVID variance that you’re learning about, we’re instituting now a new measure for individuals flying into the United States from other countries.
President Joe Biden: (09:27)
In addition to wearing masks, everyone flying to the United States from another country will need to test before they get on that plane, before they depart, and quarantine when they arrive in America.
President Joe Biden: (09:41)
Our national plan launches a full scale war time effort to address the supply shortages by ramping up production and protective equipment, syringes, needles, you name it. And when I say war time, people kind of look at me like, “War time?” Well, as I said, last night, 400,000 Americans have died. That’s more than have died in all of World War II; 400,000. This is a war time undertaking.
President Joe Biden: (10:12)
Today, I’m signing an executive action to use the Defense Production Act and all other available authorities to direct all federal agencies, and private industry to accelerate the making of everything that’s needs to protect, test, vaccinate and take care of our people. We’ve already identified suppliers and we’re working with them on to move the plan forward.
President Joe Biden: (10:35)
Look, our strategy includes a plan to safely reopen schools and businesses while protecting our workers. Today, we’re directing the Department Of Education and the Department Of Health And Human Services to immediately provide schools and communities with clear guidance and resources to safely reopen the schools and childcare centers.
President Joe Biden: (11:01)
And by the way, when you do that, think of all the people that can get back to work, be able to get back to work; all the mothers and single fathers that are staying home, taking care of their children. We’re going to put the full force of the federal government behind expanding testing by launching a COVID-19 pandemic testing board. This effort will ensure that we get testing to where it is needed and where it’s needed most; helping schools and businesses reopened safely.
President Joe Biden: (11:30)
And protecting the most vulnerable by those who live in long-term care facilities. And for the millions of workers, many of whom are people of color, immigrants and low wage workers, who continue to put their lives on the line to keep this country going through the pandemic. I’m calling for the enforcement of a more stringent worker safety standards so that you are better protected from this virus while you have to continue to work, to protect the rest of us.
President Joe Biden: (11:58)
Our plan also protects those most at risk, and works for everyone, of all races and urban, rural communities alike. Today, I’m formalizing the Health Equity Task Force that we announced in the transition led by the brilliant Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. Who ensures that it’s going to ensure that equality is at the core of every decision we make.
President Joe Biden: (12:23)
That includes addressing vaccine hesitancy and building trust in communities. As well as fighting disinformation campaigns that are already underway. Above all, our plan is to restore public trust. We will make sure that scientists and public health experts will speak directly to you. That’s why you’re going to hear a lot more from Dr. Fauci again.
President Joe Biden: (12:48)
Not from the president, but from the real genuine experts and scientists. We’re going to make sure they work free from political interference. That they make decisions strictly based on science and healthcare alone. Science and health alone, not what the political consequences are. The Vice President Harris and I, and our entire administration will always be honest and transparent with you about both the good news, the bad. We will level with you, when we make a mistake.
President Joe Biden: (13:20)
We’ll straight up say what happened. And I said at the outset, the honest truth is we’re still in a dark winter of this pandemic. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. It’s going to take many months to get where we need to be. Progress [inaudible 00:13:38] our plan will take time to measure as people getting infected today, they don’t show up as case counts for weeks.
President Joe Biden: (13:45)
And those who perished from this disease die weeks after their exposure, despite the best intentions. We’re going to face setbacks, which I will always explain to you. But also know, we can do this if we come together. That’s why, ultimately our plan is based on unity and all of us acting as one nation. It requires families and neighbors looking out for one another.
President Joe Biden: (14:16)
Healthcare providers and business, and civic, and religious, and civil rights organizations, and unions all relying together on a common purpose. With urgency and purpose, and resolve. It requires reasserting our global leadership. Which is why I took an action yesterday for the United States to rejoin the World Health Organization. And to reestablish, our Global Pandemic Office, and the National Security Council.
President Joe Biden: (14:45)
It requires Congress coming together to provide the necessary funding, in the COVID relief package and the American Rescue Plan that I will soon be sending to the Congress. I know these bold practical steps will not come cheaply, but failing to do so will cost us so much more dearly. I look forward to working with members of both parties in the Congress. We’re in a national emergency and it’s time we treat it like one. Together, and the national plan, as the United States of America.
President Joe Biden: (15:19)
As I said yesterday at my inaugural address, there are moments in history when more is asked of a particular generation, more asked of us as Americans than other times, we are in that moment now. History is going to measure whether we’re up to the task. I believe we are. The American people have given so much already, but I believe they’re ready to set big goals and pursue them with courage, conviction, and honesty because the health of the nation is literally at stake. It’s not hyperbole.
President Joe Biden: (15:54)
I’m convinced the American people are ready as well to spare no effort, no expense to get this done. What could be more important? The more people we vaccinate, and the faster we do it, the sooner we can put this pandemic behind us, and the sooner we can build our economy back and build it back better. And get back to our lives and to our loved ones. We can do this. We can do this if we stand together as fellow Americans, and as the United States of America.
President Joe Biden: (16:27)
So God bless those lost souls in this pandemic and their families, all they left behind. May God bless all of you on the front lines, when defined the best of who we are as Americans. Thank you very much. Now, I’m going to go over to this desk and sign these executive actions. But again, this is the plan. This is the plan. You can go online and get it. I know it’s a lot of heavy reading, but it’s all laid out in stark detail here.
President Joe Biden: (16:55)
President Joe Biden: (17:11)
This executive order I’m signing is [inaudible 00:17:14] in supply chain. This next one is keeping workers safe and how to do that.
Speaker 2: (17:47)
President Joe Biden: (17:49)
This next one is ensuring equitable response. I guess I should take this out this way. The pens are going to pop on you. Can you give me a hand here?
Speaker 3: (18:09)
President Joe Biden: (18:09)
There you go. This next one is when I referenced about traveling to America, this is the promoting safe travel. This next on is setting up the pandemic testing board. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (18:27)
President Joe Biden: (18:40)
This next one is studying the safe schools initiative. This next one is dictating the COVID data that has to be maintained and recorded. Next one is making sure that the National Guard and FEMA support is available. This next one relates to expanding access to care and treatment for COVID-19. And the last one is our global response directive.
Speaker 3: (20:19)
Speaker 4: (20:19)
Mr.President, you said you set the goal at 100 million vaccines in the [crosstalk 00:20:43] is that high enough? Shouldn’t you set the bar higher? That’s basically where the US is right now.
President Joe Biden: (20:47)
When I announced it, you all said, “It’s not possible.” Come on, give me a break man. It’s a good start. 100 million. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (21:01)
Come on you guys [crosstalk 00:20:53]. Let’s go. [crosstalk 00:20:54]. Come on you guys, let’s go. [crosstalk 00:20:55]. Let’s go. Thank you guys. Thank you guys.
Speaker 6: (21:10)
Thank you very much.
Speaker 5: (21:11)
Speaker 6: (21:11)
Speaker 5: (21:11)
Okay. Come on, let’s go. [crosstalk 00:21:11] let’s go. Thank you. Come on guys.