May 13, 2021
Joe Biden Speech Transcript: Fully Vaccinated Americans No Longer Need to Wear Masks
President Joe Biden made remarks about new CDC guidelines stating that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks in most circumstances, indoors and outdoors. Read the transcript of his speech briefing here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC announced that they are no longer recommending that fully vaccinated people need wear masks. This recommendation holds true whether you are inside or outside. I think it’s a great milestone, a great day. It’s been made possible by the extraordinary success we’ve had in vaccinating so many Americans so quickly.
Joe Biden: (00:34)
To date, we’ve given out 250 million shots in 114 days, and we’re seeing the results. Cases are down in 49 of 50 States. New York Times has reported that hospitalizations are the lowest they’ve been since April of 2020, over a year ago, right after the start of the pandemic. Deaths are down 80% and also at their lowest levels since April of 2020. And as the virus tragically rages in other countries, as other nations, even wealthy nations mired in the challenges of slow vaccine rollout and poor economic conditions, as a result, things are very different here.
Joe Biden: (01:28)
In less than four months, we’ve gone from 5.5% to nearly 60% of the adults in America with at least one shot in their arm. We’ve gone from stagnation to an economy that is growing faster than it has in nearly 40 years. We’ve gone from an anemic job creation to a record for job creation for a new administration. All of this is a product of prompt action to roll out the vaccine and boost our economy.
Joe Biden: (02:02)
As I said in my joint address to the Congress, this vaccination effort has been an historic logistical achievement for the United States of America. Over the past 114 days, our vaccination program has led the world, and that’s due to the incredible hard work of so many people. The scientists and researchers, the drug companies, the National Guard, the U.S. military, FEMA, the nation’s governors, doctors, nurses, pharmacists.
Joe Biden: (02:34)
Everyone who has moved heaven and earth to get as many shots in the arms of as many Americans as possible and it’s truly been an all hands on deck for the country effort. Some people said we couldn’t do this, that it would not be until the fall that we had this many people vaccinated, that 2021 might be a lost year for our country, as 2020 was. But we proved the doubters wrong.
Joe Biden: (03:08)
I need to single out one more group to praise, the American people. The American people, for more than a year, you’ve endured so much and so many lost jobs. So many businesses lost, so many lives upended, and so many months that our kids couldn’t be in school. You couldn’t see your friends or family. All the moments that mattered so much, from birthdays to weddings, to graduations, all postponed. And most tragically of all, the lost lives.
Joe Biden: (03:48)
As the press here knows, I carry a card in my pocket with the number of lives lost to COVID as of the close of business yesterday, 580,073 lost lives. So many empty chairs. So many times a husband or wife lean over to touch their spouse. They’re not there. Moms and dads, sons and daughters, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, your neighbors, your coworkers.
Joe Biden: (04:37)
Having been there in other circumstances, I know it’s a little solace right now, but I promise you the day will come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. That’s when you know you’re going to get through it. You will get through it, but it’s a long haul. You’ve endured all this.
Joe Biden: (05:04)
When your country asked you to get vaccinated, you did. The American people stepped up. You did what I consider to be your patriotic duty. That’s how we’ve gotten to this day. As president, I could say I’m pleased, but I’m sure the vice president agrees with me, we’re not surprised. Pleased but not surprised because the simple truth is this, the American people have never, ever, ever, ever let their country down, never. This country is proving what we’ve known, what we all known for so long. There’s nothing we are unable to do when we put our minds, our hearts, and our souls into it and we do it together.
Joe Biden: (05:53)
Now, I want to be clear about what the CDC is saying and what the CDC is not saying. The CDC is saying they have concluded that fully vaccinated people are at a very, very low risk of getting COVID-19. Therefore, if you’ve been fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. Let me repeat. If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. But if you have not been vaccinated, or if you’re getting a two-shot vaccine, and you’ve not gotten your … you only had your first shot, but not your second, or you haven’t waited the full two weeks after your second shot, you still need to wear a mask.
Joe Biden: (06:45)
Look, we’ve gotten this far. Please protect yourself until you get to the finish line. Because as great as this announcement is today, we don’t want to let up. We all know how tough this virus has been. The safest thing for the country is for everyone to get vaccinated and getting vaccinated is easier than ever. We’ve worked so hard. We have 80,000 locations. 90% of you live within five miles of one of those locations.
Joe Biden: (07:22)
You can find a vaccine site near you by texting your zip code to the following number: 438829. Let me repeat, text your zip code to 438829, and it’ll get the places nearest you, you can go and get vaccinated now. And many places don’t require an appointment. It’s free. Just walk in, get the shot. Anyone 12 years or above in age is eligible.
Joe Biden: (07:57)
And for now, after a year of hard work and so much sacrifice, the rule is very simple. Get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do. It’s vaxed or masked. Get vaccinated. If you’re vaccinated, you can be around the vaccinated or unvaccinated people, but if you’re not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated, you should wear a mask for your own protection and the protection of other unvaccinated people.
Joe Biden: (08:32)
The choice is yours. You all made this possible. Now let’s finish the work of beating this virus and getting everything back to normal. Remember, as fast as we’ve gone, most people under the age of 65 aren’t vaccinated yet. We’ve opened vaccinations nationally to all adults just four weeks ago. It’s going to take a little more time for everyone who wants to get vaccinated to get their shots. So all of us, let’s be patient, be patient with one another.
Joe Biden: (09:10)
Some may say, “Just feel more comfortable, continue to wear a mask.” They may feel that way. So if you’re someone with a mask, you see them, please treat them with kindness and respect. We’ve had too much conflict, too much bitterness, too much anger, too much politicization of this issue about wearing masks. Let’s put it to rest. Let’s remember we’re all Americans, let’s remember that we are all in this together. If you’re fully vaccinated and can take your mask off, you’ve earned the right to do something that Americans are known for all around the world, greeting others with a smile, with a smile.
Joe Biden: (10:00)
So it’s a good day for the country. We aren’t done yet. We’re still losing too many Americans because we still have too many unvaccinated people. We have to get to 70% of adults started on vaccinations and by July the 4th. And we have to take this pandemic, tackle it not just here, but overseas as well to truly be safe in the long run. There’s still more work ahead. But I’ve said many times, as tough as this pandemic has been, we will get through it.
Joe Biden: (10:37)
We will rebuild our economy, reclaim our lives, and get back to normal. We’ll laugh again, we’ll know joy again, and we’ll smile again. And now see one another smile. Look at the smiles on other people’s faces. Better days are ahead, I promise you, and the best days for America are still to come. I promise you that as well. Thank you, God bless you, and remember it’s never, ever, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against the American people. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (11:19)
Mr. President, how can you enforce unmasking [inaudible 00:11:20] and still use their masks?
Joe Biden: (11:22)
I don’t, we don’t enforce it. We, in fact, if you don’t, if you haven’t been vaccinated, wear your mask for your own protection and the protection of the people who are also have not been vaccinated yet. It’s not an enforcement thing. We’re not going to go out and arrest people. But the fact of the matter is I still believe the vast majority of the American people care about the safety of their neighbors and care about the safety of their families. And like I said, if you’ve been vaccinated, you don’t have to wear your mask and you can shake hands. You can even give each other a hug, but if you’ve not been vaccinated, please wear the mask. Please wear the mask. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (12:06)
Mr. President, is there any update on your meeting with the Republicans, sir?
Joe Biden: (12:10)
We had a very, very good meeting and it was great to be back with so many of the colleagues that I had served with in the Senate, and I am very optimistic yet we can reach a reasonable agreement. But even if we don’t, it’s been a good faith, there’s a good faith effort just from starting.
Speaker 3: (12:30)
Compromise on anything other than the corporate tax?
Joe Biden: (12:32)
We didn’t compromise on anything. What we did was I laid out what I thought we should be doing, how it should be paid for, and my colleagues in the Senate came back and said they’ll come back to me with a counter offer of what they are prepared to do and fund and how to fund it, and then we’ll talk again next week. So thank you all so very much.
Joe Biden: (13:18)
Thanks, team, for getting this done.
Kamala Harris: (13:25)
Joe Biden: (13:33)