President Biden shared words of solidarity and encouragement tonight during a nationally televised address acknowledging the one-year anniversary since Covid-19 shuttered most of the US.
Here are some of the key lines from his speech:
- On a year that should never have been: “A year ago we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked, denials for days, weeks, then months. That led to more deaths, more infections, more stress, and more loneliness,” Biden said. “A year filled with the loss of life and the loss of living for all of us. But in the loss we saw how much there was to gain in appreciation, respect and gratitude, finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do.”
- On Covid-19 variants: “As I told the woman in Pennsylvania, I’ll tell you the truth. July 4th with your loved ones is the goal, but with goals, a lot can happen,” Biden said. “Conditions can change. The scientists have made clear that things may get worse again as new variants of the virus spread. We’ve got work to do to ensure that everyone has the confidence and safety and effectiveness of all three vaccines.”
- On Americans losing faith in democracy: “We lost faith in whether our government and our democracy can deliver on really hard things for the American people,” Biden said, adding to comments about all the things the pandemic had taken away. “As I stand here tonight we’re proving once again something I’ve said time and time again, until you’re probably tired of hearing me say it. I say to foreign leaders and domestic alike. It is never, ever a good bet to bet against the American people.”
- On the importance of getting vaccinated: “If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July 4th there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day.”
- On reopening schools: “With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, and I thank again the House and Senate for passing it, and my announcement last month of a plan to vaccinate teachers and school staff, including bus drivers, we can accelerate [the] massive nationwide effort to reopen our schools safely and meet my goal that I stated at the same time of 100 million shots of opening a majority of K through 8 schools in my first 100 days in office,” Biden said. “This is going to be the number one priority of my new secretary of education, Miguel Cardona.”
- On hate crimes against other Americans: “Too often, we have turned against one another. A mask, the easiest thing to do to save lives, sometimes, it divides us, states pitted against one another, instead of working with each other, vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans, who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.” Biden added: “At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they’re on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives, and still, still they’re forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It’s wrong. It’s un-American. And it must stop.”
About 598,523 Americans will have died of coronavirus by July 1, according to the latest forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
That number is an increase of more than 22,000 deaths from an IHME forecast released over the weekend, which predicted about 576,026 American deaths by July 1. The team says that an increase in mobility, along with declining mask use in many states and the circulation of more contagious virus variants led to the increase in projected deaths.
“Over the last week the US has seen the largest one-week increase in mobility since the pandemic began,” the IHME team wrote in an analysis containing data through March 8. “This huge jump in mobility means 22 states have mobility levels within 10% of the pre-Covid-19 baseline.”
The latest projection is based on a scenario that accounts for continued spread of the B.1.1.7 virus variant in some locations and scale-up of Covid-19 vaccination in the US over the next few months. Under that scenario, the current projected death rate of 1,395 deaths a day could drop to 86 deaths a day by July 1. If most people wore masks, it would be just 36 deaths a day by July 1.
However, if those who have been vaccinated move toward pre-pandemic levels of mobility, the model projects 822 deaths a day by July 1. In that scenario, IHME projected 655,666 American coronavirus deaths by July.
“If more rapid behavioral relaxation than expected continues, transmission could easily increase enough to counteract the effect of vaccination scale-up and decreasing seasonality,” the IHME team said.
If 95% of Americans started wearing masks, the model projects 584,943 deaths by July 1.
CNN’s Van Jones said Thursday that President Biden’s address to Americans on the day he signed the Covid-19 relief bill into law was “what we needed right now.”
“He didn’t say, you need me. He said, ‘I need you,'” Jones said. “He didn’t just say the states. He said and the tribes and the territories. He talked about the rural America. He’s got money in there for rural Americans. He talked about corporations coming together. And he stuck up for the Asian-American community that’s been living a horror for this entire time.”
Jones went to praise Biden for not criticizing his opponents.
No Republican in the House and Senate voted in favor of the Covid relief bill.
“He didn’t blame the other party for not being there,” Jones said. “He told the country that we can get this done.”
Hear from CNN’s Van Jones:
President Biden said later during his remarks on the anniversary of the pandemic that while he’d like Americans to spend July 4th with family, “things may get worse again as new variants of the virus spread.”
“As I told the woman in Pennsylvania, I’ll tell you the truth. July 4th with your loved ones is the goal, but with goals, a lot can happen,” Biden said. “Conditions can change. The scientists have made clear that things may get worse again as new variants of the virus spread. We’ve got work to do to ensure that everyone has the confidence and safety and effectiveness of all three vaccines.”
More on Covid-19 variants: The US is at risk of losing all its recent gains in the battle against Covid-19 as highly contagious variants take advantage of Americans getting lax with safety measures.
“Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After weeks of tumbling case numbers, new infections are on the rise again — about 2% more this past week compared to the previous week, Walensky said Monday.
“Similarly, the most recent seven-day average of deaths has also increased more than 2% … to nearly 2,000 deaths per day.”
Watch the moment:
President Biden admitted that many Americans had “lost faith” in democracy and the US government over the course of the pandemic during his primetime speech Thursday evening.
“We lost faith in whether our government and our democracy can deliver on really hard things for the American people,” Biden said, adding to comments about all the things the pandemic had taken away.
“As I stand here tonight we’re proving once again something I’ve said time and time again, until you’re probably tired of hearing me say it. I say to foreign leaders and domestic alike. It is never, ever a good bet to bet against the American people,” he said. “America is coming back.”
Biden pointed to vaccine development and distribution, which he called “a true miracle of science” and the recent Mars rover landing before pivoting to the American Rescue Plan, which he signed earlier on Thursday.
Hear more from President Biden:
President Biden said that the federal government will launch tools in May to help people find places to get vaccinated.
“At the time when every adult is eligible (for a coronavirus vaccine) in May, we will launch, with our partners, new tools for you to find the vaccine and where to get the shot, including a new website that will help you first find the place to get vaccinated and the one nearest (to) you,” Biden said during his remarks at the White House marking the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.
“No more searching day and night for an appointment for you and your loved ones,” he added.
See the moment:
President Biden concluded his first primetime address tonight saying he prays the nation will come together.
“My fervent prayer for our country, is that after all we’ve been through, we’ll come together, as one people, one nation, one America,” he said. “I believe we can and we will.”
“We will come out stronger, with a renewed faith in ourselves, a renewed commitment to one another, to our communities and to our country,” Biden continued.
Biden then brought the speech to a close with short prayer, appealing to a higher power to protect our troops and give comfort to those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic.
“God bless you all and please God give solace to all those people who lost someone and may God protect our troops,” he said.
Hear Biden’s closing remarks:
President Biden called on all Americans “to get vaccinated” against coronavirus when it’s their turn.
“If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July 4th there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” Biden said during his primetime address.
“That doesn’t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together after this long hard year that will make this Independence day something truly special.”
Watch the moment:
President Biden confronted grief and loss at the beginning of his first primetime address to Americans tonight, on the one-year anniversary of the first Covid-19 shutdowns in the US.
“As of now,” Biden said in the East Room of the White House, “total deaths in America, 527,726, is more deaths than in World War One World War Two, the Vietnam War, and 9/11 combined.”
“They’re husbands, wives, sons and daughters, grandparents, friends, neighbors, young and old,” he remarked. “They leave behind loved ones unable to truly grieve or to heal even to have a funeral.”
The President said he was thinking of everyone who died in the past year, not just Covid victims, who also died alone and left behind “loved ones who are hurting badly.” He said over the course of the pandemic, people had lost jobs, “lost control,” and “maybe worst of all, the loss of hope.” He talked about the children’s “loss of learning.”
“The details of life that matter most,” he continued, “and we missed those details. The big details on the small moments, weddings, birthdays, graduations, all the things that needed to happen. First dates, family reunions, Sunday night rituals. It’s all as exact a terrible cost on the psyche of so many of us.”
Biden said Americans were “fundamentally a people who wants to be with others, to talk. To laugh. To hug.”
“The things we used to do that always filled us with joy, have become things, we couldn’t do broke our hearts,” he lamented.
Hear Biden speak: