President Joe Biden spoke to the nation on Thursday night to mark the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus' arrival in the US. His speech followed the passage earlier that day of the American Rescue Plan, a sweeping spending bill that includes cash stimulus for Americans.
As regard the question that's on everyone's mind, when life can get back to normal, he said:
"I need you, the American people, I need you, I need every American to do their part... I need you to get vaccinated... and tp help your family... get vaccinated as well... If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together," he said.
"There's a good chance" that Americans will be able to celebrate Independence Day on a small scale "after this long hard year that will make this Independence Day something truly special."
Biden said things may get worse, but promised that by July 4th things would be better. He praised Dr. Fauci who has "assured us the vaccines are safe."
"I know they're safe," he said, saying that this is why he and Vice President Harris got their vaccines in public, to show everyone just how safe it was. "We need everyone to get vaccinated, to keep washing their hands, to stay socially distanced. And keep wearing your mask," he said, as recommended by the CDC.
"Unity is what we do together as fellow Americans, because if we don't stay vigilant and conditions change we may have to reinstate restrictions," he said, noting that "we don't want to do that."
This is "not the time to not stick with the rules," he said.
He began his speech slamming the previous administration's failures, not noting that it was the Trump administration that got the vaccine made and manufactured in record time.
"As we mark one year that everything stopped because of the pandemic," he began, instantly moving to attack the Trump administration for the spread of the virus. He offered consolation for the losses that have faced all Americans, saying "finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do, in fact it may be the most American thing that we do."
Biden spoke about the process over the past year of health care workers, doctors, researchers, and scientists, all working hard to find ways to treat and cure those with the virus, and how to curb the spread. He mourned the nearly 550,000 who have died, and noted that he keeps track of the number every day.
"You've often heard me say before, we've talked about the longest walk a parent can make," is the walk up to his children's bedroom to explain that a parent has lost their job, and that circumstances are going to change.
"The loss of control, and worst of all the lost of hope," he intoned, and grieved the loss of learning of so many American children who have been kept out of school. Biden delved into the nostalgia of events that didn't happen, and sounded like he was whispering the horror as a great aunt might say the word "cancer."
"Too often, we've 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 one another. Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans..." he said. Hate crimes are wrong, he said "and it must stop."
He said the government's first function is to protect the American people, saying the government "isn't some foreign force in a distant capital, but it is us, we the people."
Biden said he was grateful to the American people before launching into an anecdote about visiting a small business owner in Philadelphia over the summer who said she just wanted the truth. "My fellow Americans, you are owed nothing less than the truth."
Biden said the "only way" to get "back on track" "is to beat the virus," and this is why he's putting us on a "war footing to get the job done."
"Thank God we're making some real progress now," he said. Biden said that two months ago there weren't enough vaccines for all Americans, but that "soon we will."
"And now, at the direction and with the assistance of my administration, Johnson &Johnson is working together with a competitor, Merck," to manufacture more vaccines. "These two companies, competitors, have come together for the good of the nation and they should be applauded for it." All adults in America, he said, should have access to a vaccine by the end of May.
Biden touted the vaccination centers and his mobilization efforts so that vaccines can be where people need them. Additionally, he spoke with praise about the efforts to vaccinate "black Latino, native American, rural communities."
"No other country in the world has done this," he said as regards the vaccine efforts, and said that all adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than day one. That's much earlier than expected," he said.
"We're gonna go from a million shots a day... to beating our current pace of 2 million shots a day, outpacing the world," he said. "At the time that every adult is eligible in May we will launch, with our partners, new tools," such as a website where people can find out where to get vaccinated."
As regards schools, he said the majority of K-8 schools would be opened in his first 100 days in office, and spoke with praise about the new education secretary, Miguel Cardona. It will take weeks, he said, before the CDC will release new guidance as to what vaccinated people can do.
"But to get there we can't let our guard down, this fight is far from over, as I told the woman from Pennsylvania, I will tell you the truth."
It was at this point that he shockingly said that "There's a good chance" that Americans will be able to celebrate Independence Day on a small scale "after this long hard year that will make this Independence Day something truly special." He discussed the implications of Americans' responsibility to follow the rules, and to be given permission to gather by July 4th.
Biden said in addition to everything else, we've lost faith in government, which was again an attack on the Trump administration.
It's never a good bet to bet against the American people. America is coming back," he said, calling the vaccine a "true miracle of science." He also praised the Perseverance Rover that landed on Mars. Mostly, however, he praised his massive spending plan.
"After long, dark, years, one whole year, there is hope and light and better years ahead if we all do our part this country will be vaccinated soon, and we'll all be on the mend, our kids will be back in school," he said.
"Over a year ago no one could have imagined what we're about to go through, now we're coming through it. It's a shared experience that binds us together as a nation. We're bound together by the loss and pain of the days that have gone by," he said, as well as the hope that ignites us to move forward.
"I believe we can and we will, we're seizing this moment," he said, stating his belief that history will record that we faced this is period in our nation is the "the darkest we've ever known."
"There's nothing we can't do when we do it together," he said.
Reporters called out questions as he walked from the podium.