Remarks by President-elect Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware
[As prepared for delivery]
Vice President-elect Harris and I just concluded a video call with the Executive Leadership of the National Governors Association, a bipartisan group of governors.
They've had to make tough calls during this unprecedented crisis.
And we are grateful for everything they're doing to keep people safe.
Unfortunately — because of the lack of ascertainment by the GSA — my transition team hasn't been able to get access to the information we need to be able to deal with everything from testing and guidance to the all-important issue of vaccine distribution and vaccination plan.
We haven't been able to get into Operation Warp Speed.
But we will take what we learn today and build it into our planning.
The country is still in crisis, and there's a dark winter still ahead.
Yesterday, America reached another tragic milestone: 250,000 deaths due to COVID-19.
These are empty chairs at dining room tables where just days or weeks or months ago loved ones sat, laughed, and talked.
To the families and friends left behind, Jill and I send you our love and prayers.
We know how tough it is to find purpose in the memory of the loved one you lost.
It will take time, but you will find it.
And we will find our purpose as a nation.
I promise you that.
And I promise you that we will work together.
This was a great meeting today.
All of the governors — no matter their political party — shared a strong sense of a common purpose.
There was a real desire for a real partnership between the states and the federal government.
They emphasized that we might be Democrats and Republicans — but we're all Americans first.
What really pleased me the most was that the governors made clear that beating COVID-19 will require all of us working together as one country.
Kamala and I agree.
And I was deeply impressed with how much of a consensus there was on how to move forward — what we need to do and how we need to do it — in a coordinated way.
We discussed a number of critical ways we can work together and unify around a national approach to controlling COVID-19:
First, delivering economic relief to cities, states, and tribal communities.
The lost revenue from COVID and the cost of COVID recovery is devastating to state and local budgets.
As the governors indicated: we've got to come together and the federal government has to deliver this relief — sooner rather than later — and with flexibility for states to meet their needs.
And this includes helping businesses, schools, and working families — from unemployment benefits to early education to continued access to affordable health care during the pandemic.
States and communities shouldn't have to lay off teachers, cops, and firefighters, and cut vital services for families and businesses.
Second, delivering a safe, equitable, and free vaccine.
The governors all acknowledge this will be a massive undertaking — one of the greatest operational challenges we will face.
One statistic that was raised by the governors — it's taken 8 months to provide 120 Million COVID tests.
Just imagine how much more difficult it will be — and how much more efficient and effective we'll have to be — to provide 330 Million vaccinations.
That's what the governors were raising.
In the meeting, we discussed the challenges that lie ahead in distributing and administering the vaccine.
The governors talked about how getting doses of the vaccine distributed is just one step — we have to actually get vaccinations into the arms of 330 million Americans.
And we discussed the difficulty of that task.
It will take time. It will take coordination. It will take the federal government and state governments working together.
The governors emphasized the need to be clear with the American people about what to expect.
They all acknowledge that this will 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, Native American communities, small towns and rural communities.
Third, we discussed the need to help states with Title 32 funding for the National Guard.
The governors discussed the need for funding — and waiving of certain FEMA fees — when it comes to deploying the National Guard for COVID relief efforts.
That's something Kamala and I will be very focused on.
Fourth, we discussed implementing National Mask mandates.
All 10 governors — Democrats and Republicans — have imposed masking requirements and recognize the need for universal masking.
It's not a political statement. It's a patriotic duty.
Fifth, we discussed making testing more available and accessible.
Anyone who wants a test should get one. Period.
And finally, while we focused on the immediate need to control the virus, we also talked about how to build back better — especially on infrastructure, education, and so much more.
This was not a one-off meeting.
We agreed that we will continue to meet and work together.
I'll continue to seek their input.
And that our COVID teams will follow up and coordinate on the issues coming out of the call.
Bottom line, we can do this.
There's nothing beyond our capacity. We just have to come together as a country.
Thank you. God bless you all. May God protect our troops.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks by President-elect Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347030