Biden vows no nationwide lockdown, discusses mask mandate with governors
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris discuss their virtual meeting with a bipartisan group of governors about defeating the coronavirus pandemic.
available for everyone to make a free vaccine available for everyone and to get this pandemic under control, governors are elected by their states to take action in moments of crisis. They're the ones who go to the places and talk to the people who are hardest hit. And during this pandemic they have been called on to make very difficult decisions about the health and safety of the people they represent about opening schools and about opening our economy responsibly. I have served in both state and local government, so I understand the critical role our governors play and they will have partners in the White House starting on January 20th. Because as governor, Herbert said, in our meeting, when the states are successful, the country is successful, so our message to our governors and toe all of our nation's state and local leaders. It's simple. President elect Biden and I will make sure you have the resource is and support. You need to save lives and help get our economy back on track, and we will also make sure that our federal, state, local and tribal authorities are working closely together so we can tackle these challenges as effectively as possible because when it comes to this pandemic and the economic recovery, we are not Democrats or Republicans. We are Americans and we will be there for one another. That's the kind of leadership the American people need and deserve. And it's the kind of leadership President elect Biden and I will provide. And it is now my great honor to introduce President elect Joe Biden. Sure. Hello, folks. Good afternoon. Thanks for your patience. Vice President Elect Denies. This has pointed out, have just concluded. A video conference with the executive leadership of the National Governors Conference included Governor Cuomo, New York Governor Hutchinson, Governor Hogan, Governor Witmer, Governor Ivey, Governor Paulus, Governor Baker, Governor Lew, John Grisham, Governor Herbert and Governor Carney. And it was really a worthwhile undertaking. You know, they've had to make some really tough calls through this unprecedented crisis, and we're incredibly grateful for everything they've done and keep doing to try to keep their communities safe. Unfortunately, because of the lack of ah, assignment, as they say, which is that's a fancy word these days. But until the head of the TSA says that we, in fact our team, this transition team. Our team Senator and I have in fact are the likely winners. Until she does that, we don't have access to all the information that we need to get from all the various agencies. We're not able to deal with everything from testing the guidance to the all important issue of vaccine distribution and, even more importantly, vaccination plan toe actually get vaccinations. We haven't been able to get into Operation warp speed, but we will take what we've learned today and build it into our planet. The country is still in a crisis, and there's a dark winter still ahead. Yesterday, America reached another tragic milestone. 250,000 deaths. A quarter of a million people died due to Cova 19, and there are empty chairs and dining room tables just were filled just days and weeks ago with loved ones. Family friends who laughed and talked together to those families and friends have left behind. Jill and I send our love and our prayers. We know, like many of you do how tough it is toe find purpose in the memory of a loved one you've just lost. It will take time, but you'll find it, you'll find it and wolf, and you'll find your purpose as we're going to find our purpose for our nation as a nation. Now, I promise you, and I promise you that will work together. There's a There's a great meeting we had today. All the governors, no matter their political party, whether they're from wherever part of the country, they represent it, no matter. Their political philosophy, shared a strong, on abiding sense of a common purpose. There was a real desire for a real partnership between the states and the federal government. Each of the governor's emphasized that we might be Democrats, Republicans, but we're all American. First they congratulated this hardly for the our wind. What really please me was the most was that governors made clear that beating Covert 19 is gonna require all of us working together as one country. Come on, I agree. We are. We were deeply impressed with how much consensus there was, how to move forward among the governor's. What we need to do now is how we need to do it. How are we going to do it? And what coordinated way can it be done? We discussed a number of critical ways we can work together and unify around a national approach to controlling covert 19 first delivering economic relief to the city states and tribal communities. The lost revenue from Cove it and the cost of cover recovery is devastating to state local budgets. As governors, As all of them indicated, we've got to come together. The federal government has to deliver this release sooner rather than later and with flexibility for the states to meet their needs. This includes helping businesses, schools, working families from unemployment benefits, too early education, continued access to affordable health care. All of that's needed during this pandemic. States and communities shouldn't have to lay off teachers, cops, firefighters cut vital services for families and businesses. The second thing there was Uniform Agreement on delivering a safe and equitable and free vaccine. The governor's all acknowledge that there will be a massive undertaking one of the greatest operational challenges we will face as a nation. One statistic that was raised by the governors. It took eight months to provide 100 million covert test eight months provide covert test. Just imagine how much more difficult will be, they pointed out. If we don't find amore efficient and effective way to provide 330 million vaccinations. Put it in perspective. They made the point. We can't wait. That's what the governor's air raising in the meeting we discussed the challenges that lie ahead and distributing and administering the vaccine. The governor's talked about how getting doses of vaccine distributed is just one step. We have to actually get vaccinations into the arms of 330 million Americans. That takes enormous resource is people product. We discussed the difficulty of that task gonna take time, gonna take coordination. It's gonna take the federal government, state governments, working hand and glove, working together. Governors, the governors all emphasized, We need to be clear with the American people about what to expect. No false expectations. Let them know what we anticipate. They all acknowledge that this is gonna take a massive public education campaign, and we also need to reach traditionally underserved communities that are being hardest hit by the pandemic. Black, brown, Latino, Latin American community, Native American communities, small towns, rural communities. They talked about that in some detail. Thirdly, we discussed the need to help states with title 32 funding for the National Guard. That's a fancy way of saying governors governors need to be able to get funding when they disposed when they they need Thio and bring their national garden to play the National Guard, you're gonna have to play this. It cost a lot of money, and governors need that paid for. Governor discussed the need for funding when waving certain FEMA fees. The fact is that this is a national emergency. That's what FEMA is supposed to deal with. Our view is that should be done when it comes to deploying the National Guard or covert a real relief that should be paid for. You know, that's something camel I will be very focused on. And, fourthly, we discussed the implementation of a national mask mandate. 10 governors, Democrat and Republican have imposed Maskey requirements and recognized the need for universal masking. North, South, east and west is not a political statement. It's a patriotic duty. Fifth, we discussed making testing more available and accessible. Anyone who wants a test, you'd be able to get one period. And finally, while we focused on the immediate needs to control the virus, the governor's also raised and talked about how much we have to build back better, especially on infrastructure and education, so much more. This is not a one off meeting I committed. We committed. We agree that will continue to work and meet with the governor's on a regular basis, continue to seek their input, and that our covert teams will follow up and coordinate on the issues coming out of that call because some of them have very competent people on their covert teams in their states. The bottom line, we can do this. There's nothing beyond our capacity. But we have to come together as a country. What this meeting, along with others we've had reinforces, in my view, is the unity the country is looking for but looking for us to come together and deal with problems, most of which have no ideological basis for disagreement. That's what we have to do. That's what the governor's talked about. It really was pleasing to hear them. I want to thank you all. May God bless you all knows who lost someone. You're in our prayers. May God protect our troops. I'm happy to take a few questions and my boss is gonna tell me who? That iss. Thank you, Mr President. Elect I e No. You mentioned the economic impact on day. Talked a bit about the relief package you wanted, but I was wondering if we could talk about things that you'll be able to do Justice, President, or what will sort of govern your decision in terms of the economy. So I was wondering if I could ask what kind of framework you're thinking about as you decide about a Treasury secretary going forward. Whether you would consider you had said during the debates that you wanted Thio punish China over the way that they've been acting, whether that could include economic sanctions or tariffs towards China. And finally, do you think a strong dollar helps or hurts? The U. S. Is we're grappling with historic unemployment. Well, look, let me try to take him one of the time. You'll soon hear my choice for Treasury. I made that decision. We've made that decision and you hear that either just before or just after Thanksgiving. Number one and you'll find it is someone who I think is will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, from progressive to the moderate coalitions. Secondly, it's not so much about punishing China. It's about making sure China understands they gotta play by the rules. It's a simple proposition. And so that's one of the reasons why we're going dio rejoin the World Health Organization. We're going to rejoin on Day one as well, and it needs before my acknowledge and rejoin the Paris climate accord. And we have to make sure that the rest of the world and we get together and make sure there's certain bright lines. Chinese understand we have to not only deal with this pandemic had a plan for the next one. The idea that viruses they're gonna go away is just not rational. We're gonna re we're going to recalibrate and set up the institute, the institutional structures we had in our administration Obama, Biden and build on it. What was your third question was about the dollar, sir, Whether you think a strong dollar will help her with unemployment or generally just how you like the Federal Reserve Thio sort of approach the well, quite frankly, the way the Federal Reserve has been approaching the dealing with dollar has, I think, has been in a positive direction. Our interest rates. Oeiras low, Aziz. They have been in modern history. Andi, I think that is a positive thing. It lends credence to the possibility of us being able you expend the money on deficit spend in order to be able to generate economic growth right off the bat. And so I think it's been positive so far. Thank you. Thank you, Mr President Elect. You have said that if this transition doesn't get going, especially coordination on vaccine distribution, that lives will be lost. How many lives do you think are at risk here if this transition remains stalled? Well, look, you've heard the projections. The projections are that if nothing fundamentally changes between now and, uh, beginning of February, we're gonna likely lose up to 400 total of 400,000 lives. Another 150,000 lives. And so it's riel. What? Whether it's that it gets to 3. 60 Whatever it is, it's really And there is no excuse not to share the data and let us begin to plan, because on day one it's gonna take us time. If we don't have access to all this data is gonna put us behind the eight ball by a matter of a month or more. And that's lives. How many would be lost? As a consequence of that? I can't tell you, but the purpose here is to get We talked a lot about what the governor is about. What the immediate needs are. I'm gonna We're gonna impose that we're going to enforce the excuse me, employ the defense. Uh, reconstruct the act. To be able to go out there and dictate companies build and do following things. We need much more testing. We need much more masking. We mean, that's more. We need gloves. I asked them East to go and ask the National Governor Association through the Governor Cuomo and the ones on the line. So let us know what they're Shortages are what they anticipate because we're gonna move on day one. That should be moved on now. Now. But if it waits, it takes a long time to get this thing going. And when you take a step back and you look at the way the President is handling this his refusal to concede. What do you think is really going on here? In your view, Mr President Elect What do you think the president is doing? What are Americans witnessing here? Let me choose my words here. I think they're witnessing incredible irresponsibility, incredibly damaging messages being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions. And I think it is. Uh, well, I don't know his motive, but I just think it's totally irresponsible. Are you concerned he may succeed that people might question the legitimacy of your administration? No, I'm not concerned. The vast majority of American people, they've already all the polling data is indicated, although the Republicans who worry about it it's higher. But the over 78% American people believe it's without question is legitimate. Andi, I just think it's Ah. And I think most of the Republicans I've spoken to, including the governor's e think this is debilitating. It's not a It sends a horrible message about who we are as a country. Thank you, Mr President Elect. Thank you. Vice President Elect Harris. Appreciate it. Nice to see you, Aziz. Well, yes, appreciate it. And you have said that lives could be lost if you don't start getting briefings from the Trump administration. And now here we are more than 250,000 lives could be lost. Given that, how do you justify not taking legal action to get the briefings that you say are critical that you say you need It would take a lot of time, take take time. It's not going to speed it up considerably, in my view. And in the meantime, I I am hopeful that I'm going to be able to get cooperation from our Republican colleagues in the Senate, the House as well as on the governor's to build a consensus is how we proceed when we do. But why not use every tool in your toolbox to get the information that you say you need to do your job and to do it effectively on day one? I'm making a judgment based on many years of experience and how to get things done with the opposition, and my judgment is my judgment is that it is. We'll get further along by actually, um, working with our Republican colleagues now, And, uh, because the time in which we would win would not materially change necessarily. But it's still in open question. It's an open question. It could change so you haven't ruled it out. You haven't ruled out legal action against the Trump administration against the NSA. We haven't ruled it out. Okay. And given the death toll now more than 250,000 Americans who have now lost their lives you have said that you would support a nationwide shutdown if scientists recommended it. No, you've spoken to scientists now. Everybody asked that question every single time I stand here. It was a hypothetical question. The answer was I would follow the science. I am not going to shut down the economy, period. I'm going to shut down the virus. That's what I'm going to shut down. So that again, No national shutdown, no national shutdown, because every region, every area, every community is can be different. And so there's no circumstance, which I can see. It would require a total national shutdown. I think that would be counterproductive. But there are constraints in which the degree to which businesses can be open, for example, it's one thing to say that you can have in a state that were there. Infection rate is not as high. You can have Ah, a gymnasium open. It's another thing to say it could only be opened four hours a day with X number of people. The church I go to my Catholic church. There's a lot. More than 40% of the people are to come into the church. Those air rational decisions. It's not shutting down. Everything is calibrating based on what what the threat is. Thank you, Mr President. Yeah. Thank you, Mr Vice President Elect. And, um, thank you, Mr President Elect and Vice President Elect Harris. Um, a question for you first. Which is what do you make of the fact that the president is having these calls with Michigan County officials amid his bid to overturn the election? He is gonna be having also Michigan Republican legislators at the White House. Tomorrow's anything that he's doing, making you rethink your strategy. I know you say, um, that you don't wanna have legal action right now. And what do you say to Americans? Especially immigrant Americans who came to the United States looking for political stability and seeing all the things that the president is doing? Hang on. I'm on my way. That's what I say, not a joke. And what the president's doing now is is really it's going thio be another incident where he will go down in history as being one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history. It's It's just out of them, not even within the normal. All there's questions, whether it's even legal. But it's gonna be interesting who shows up in this call to meet with the leadership, and but this is going way we've won. Michigan is going to be certified. We're gonna end up making clear that they are many and clear that we want. And but I just I just It's hard to fathom how this man thinks it's hard to fathom. I'm confident he knows he hasn't won. It is not gonna be able to win, and we're gonna be sworn in on January 20th. And I just you know what, far from me to question his motive, it's just it's just outrageous what he's doing. But as he as he ups the things that he's doing calling officials, is it making you rethink your strategy at all? Is there anything that he would be doing that would make you say Okay, we really have to go to court now, or are you still watching what he's doing and saying Weaken, still kind of wait and see what happens. I'm not gonna rule anything out or anything in. But at the moment, strategy is not, is not changing. And if I could ask the question to the vice president elect with that, sure, Vice President elect Harris, you talked about your state, um, your state experience. My question is, is there anything that you heard from governors today that made you specifically concerned about vulnerable populations? Especially as I talk to Americans who say I don't have the privilege to work from home? I don't have the privilege to social distance if I'm living in a house with multi generations. Are are you? Did you hear anything that concerns you specifically? And what can we do for them as a country? Well, as the president elect shared with everyone, we heard a lot from the governors, including that um, including the concern that, uh, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, people who live in rural communities, people who Aziz groups of people, have historically been under resourced and under served. And so there was consensus among the governor's bipartisan consensus that our federal strategy should reflect those concerns in a way that we support the states with. The resource is they'll need to get to the folks who have been often overlooked or ignored on by the president elect, I think has made it very clear that it's one of our highest priorities to support that. As you may know, in the Senate, I actually lead what we called racial disparities task force. And that approach is something that we will be incorporating in our administration to ensure that all people have equal access to re sources but also taking it into account. Equitable distribution of resource is based on need. Thank you, President elect. One important thing to understand is there is a We've talked a lot about this, and we talked about it and talked about it when I was running, seeking the nomination as well. And that Is that the idea of the brown black? Yeah, Asian American Native American communities are always the first ones hit the hardest, the last ones who are brought back. We're gonna flip that around. It's going to be really important to determine priorities based upon access to the information that's available access to everything from the vaccine to other opportunities to be ableto deal with helping the country part of the country and hurt the worst. You know, three times as many African Americans have died. Then white Americans died from Kobe. So there has to be a prioritization. That's what I'd like to know. Exactly what this Well, what this administration has in mind in terms of their operation warp speed and how they plan it. And that's what we talked about with the governor's today. They all mentioned the need to focus on. The communities have been left behind, particularly Governor Cuomo. It's one thing if, for example, vaccines were distributed all the Walgreens of America, I'm not no criticism of Walgreens. But, you know, there's a lot of those facilities that aren't in rural communities and are not in poor communities, African American Latino communities. So if you've got to make sure there's access for them. Thank you so much. What? Okay. Thank you. We're burning favor. I was wondering, Okay. Yeah. What? Back there? Yeah, with the okay, because Okay,