Transition Remarks on Incoming Administration's COVID-19 Relief Efforts
Transition Remarks on Incoming Administration's COVID-19 Relief Efforts
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version below transcribed directly from audio]
Vice President Harris and I just received a
briefing on the COVID-19 by our team of experts. And as we end one of the most
difficult years as a nation, I remain optimistic about our future. Vaccines have
been discovered and developed, and there's more to come, we believe -- give us
enormous hope. Our economy is poised to come back and come alive, and I can see
a return to normalcy in the next year. I also see incredible opportunities for
our nation in the -- in the years ahead -- in job creation, clean energy, racial
equality, and much more.
But we need to be honest. The next few weeks
and months are going to be very tough, a very tough period for our nation, maybe
the toughest during this entire pandemic. I know it's hard to hear, but it's the
truth. As Roosevelt said, I think the American people can take whatever we tell
them if we tell them straight from the shoulder.1
We need to steel our spines for
what's ahead. We need to follow more closely the recommendations to slow the
spread of the virus, and each of us needs to do what we can to protect
ourselves, our families, and our fellow Americans.
We're going to get through this. Brighter
days are coming, but it's going to take all the grit and determination we have
as Americans to get it done. So today, I want to be clear about five things
every American should know about our efforts to contain COVID-19, and where the
vaccine stands today.
First, things are going to get worse before
they get better. In September, we passed a grim milestone: 200,000 deaths.
that time in this very room, many of you remember, I warned that we'd hit 400,000
deaths before the end of the Trump Administration in January.2
Critics said I was
being too alarmist and negative, but as I've said all along, I will tell you
like it is when it comes to COVID, and the reality is it looks like that --
we're going to hit that grim milestone. We've just crossed 330,000 deaths in
America. We're averaging daily death rates of nearly 2,200 people, which means
we'll lose tens of thousands of more lives in the months to come.
Hospitals are being stretched beyond
capacity, and that's data before we see the impact of the cases coming from the
recent holidays and this upcoming holiday of New Year's Eve. People getting
infected today don't show up in cases for weeks, and those who persist -- excuse
me -- those who perish [from] the disease die weeks after initial exposure. So we
have to anticipate that the infections over the holidays will produce soaring
cases counts [sic] in January and soaring death tolls into February.
You know, turning this around is going to
take time. We might not see improvement until we're well into march, as it will
take time for our COVID response plan to begin to produce visible progress.
The second thing to know is the Trump
Administration's plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind.
We're grateful to the companies, the doctors, the scientists, the researchers,
the clinical trial participants, and
Operation Warp Speed for developing the
But as I long feared and warned, the effort
to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should. A few
weeks ago, [the] Trump Administration suggested that 20 million Americans could
be vaccinated by the end of December. With only a few days left in December,
we've only vaccinated a few million so far, and the pace of the
vaccination program is moving now, as it -- if it continues to move as it is
now, it's going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people --
which brings me to the third thing every American should know.
Biden-Harris Administration will spare no effort to make sure people get
vaccinated. I've laid out three challenges in our first hundred days. One of
them is ensuring that a hundred million shots have been administered by the end
of the first hundred days. If Congress provides the funding, we'd be able to
meet this incredible goal. It would take ramping up five to six times the
current pace to one million shots a day. But even with that improvement, even if we
boost the speed of vaccinations to one million shots a day, it will still take
months to have the majority of the United States population vaccinated.
directed my team to prepare as much more aggressive -- a much more aggressive effort with more federal
involvement and leadership to get things back on track. We'll find ways to boost
the pace of vaccinations, but as
Dr. Fauci and others have stated these past few
days, this will take more time than anyone would like and more time than the
promises from the Trump Administration have suggested. This is going to be the
greatest operational challenge we've ever faced as a nation. And we're going to
get it done, but it's going to take a vast new effort that's not yet under way.
And to get things -- and -- you know, and that gets me to the fourth thing that
we should know.
going to move heaven and earth to get us going in the right direction. I'm going
to use my power under the
Defense Production Act when I'm sworn-in in order --
and order private industry to accelerate the making of the materials needed for
the vaccines as well as protective gear. Vice President Harris and I have been
speaking to -- with county officials, mayors, governors of both parties to speed
up the distribution of the vaccines across the nation. We're planning a
whole-of-government effort, and we're going to work to set up vaccination sites and send
mobile units to hard reached communities -- to hard-to-reach communities.
also know there's a vaccination hesitancy in many communities, especially Black,
Latino, and Native-American communities, who have not always been treated with
the dignity and honesty they deserve by the federal government and the
scientific community throughout our history.
That's why we will launch a massive public education campaign to increase
vaccine acceptance. We'll do everything we can to show the vaccines are safe and
critically important for one's own health and that of their families and the
means we're also going to make sure vaccines are distributed equitably, so every
person who wants a vaccine can get it no matter the color of their skin or where
we're going to ensure vaccinations are free of charge.
while the pandemic rages on and as we increase the supply, distribution, and
administration of the vaccine, we have to remain vigilant. As part of the
hundred-day challenge, I'm going to be asking the American people to wear a mask
for the first [one] hundred days of my Administration. It's not a political statement. It's a
patriotic duty. Our Administration is going to require mask-wearing where I have
the power to do so -- for federal workers in federal facilities, on interstate
travel like planes and trains. And we've been working directly with county
officials, mayors, governors, to implement mask mandates in their cities and
their towns and their states.
has been a divisive issue in this country, but COVID is a killer in red states
and blue states alike. So I encourage you all to wear a mask. Encourage your
family and friends to do the same. It's one of the easiest things we can do that
will make a huge difference and to save lives.
hundred-day challenge is opening most of our K-8 schools by the end of the first
100 days in the spring. Look, we can only do that if Congress provides the
necessary funding so we get schools, districts, communities, and states the
resources they need for those so many things that aren't there already in a
tight budget. They need funding for testing to help reopen schools, more funding
for transportation so students can maintain social distances on buses. They need
it for school building, for additional cleaning service[s], protective equipment,
going to require an additional tens of billions of dollars to get this done. And
Congress also needs to fund and provide more protective equipment for frontline
health workers, who are still reusing masks and gowns. We need to scale up
testing so anyone who needs one can get a test. After ten months of the
pandemic, we still don't have enough testing. That's a travesty.
-- vaccinations, testing, protective gear -- is going to require more funding
from Congress, more than was just approved. That's why I'll propose a COVID
action package early next year and challenge Congress to act on it quickly.
Look, my ability to change the direction of this pandemic starts in three weeks,
but with thousands dying every day between now and then, let me conclude by
discussing what needs to happen now.
congratulate the bipartisan majority on passing the President's -- and then the
President on signing the -- COVID relief bill. It's still -- you know, it's a
step, an important step...in the right direction, and it will help people in
need. And...it will pay for some, but not all, of what we need to fix the COVID
response. It's a down payment. But now, with that done, I hope the President
will also clearly and unambiguously promote mask wearing. I give former governor
Chris Christie credit. He and I have disagreed on a number of things, but I'm
thankful he's now encouraging people to do the right thing and wear masks for
themselves, their loved ones, and their country.
that President Trump will listen to him. He can do it too. It would make a huge
difference for President Trump to say, "Wear masks."
I hope the President will clearly and unambiguously urge all Americans to take
the vaccine once it's available.
it to instill public confidence in the vaccine. [Vice] President-Elect Harris
took it -- took hers today for the same reason. And when the President's doctors recommend
it, President Trump should take it and [in]still the same degree of confidence.
also say this to the American people: We can save, all the experts tell us,
between 60 and a hundred thousand lives in the weeks and months ahead if we
just step up together: Wear a mask, socially distance, wash our hands, avoid
large indoor gatherings.
all [of] these are not easy to ask, but I'm asking you to make a sacrifice. You're
already making tremendous sacrifices every single day. It's hard on your lives,
on your livelihoods, on your kids, on your families. It's not small what we're
asking you to do, but we're in this together. And actions we take now are
going to help us contain the pandemic and get us back to our lives and to our
American people -- to all of you -- I know there's a lot that we have to do, but I
want you to know there's also much we can do. We're the United States of
America. We've been through hard times before as a nation, and we'll come
through this as well. I promise you we will.
So please, I wish you a
May God bless you, and may God protect our troops.
Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by
1 Statement unverified, possibly paraphrased. Biden delivered a similar line at the
beginning of his
31 August 2020 address at Carnegie
Mellon University. A tweet from historian Jon Meacham's (verified)
attributes to Franklin Roosevelt
(February 1942) the same line delivered by Biden at Carnegie Mellon: "The
news is going to get worse and worse before it gets better and better,
and the American people deserve to have it straight from the shoulder."
Primary source documentation for the quotation is unspecified. Writing
in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Historical Society's Stan Deaton
attributes the same quotation to
Roosevelt, also absent a source. The idiom
straight from the shoulder denotes
honesty or sincerity at the expense of diplomacy.
Politfact's analysis of this claim
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