MILWAUKEE — President Joe Biden took the stage Tuesday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the first town hall of his term, fielding questions from Americans about coronavirus vaccinations, school reopenings and other issues.
Here are five key moments from the event, moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
When asked about a timeline for vaccine availability, Biden said the United States will have more than 600 million doses by the end of July – ”enough to vaccinate every single American.”
He clarified that while the shots will “be available,” that doesn’t mean that they all will have been administered.
”It’s one thing to have a vaccine ... but a vaccinator, how do you get the vaccine into someone’s arm?” Biden said, adding that he issued an executive order to allow retired doctors and nurses to administer vaccines.
The administration also has engaged the National Guard and opened more vaccination locations, he said.
Assuming the coronavirus vaccine rollout goes as planned, Biden said he believes life will return to normal for many Americans ”by next Christmas.”
“I think we’ll be in a very different circumstance – God willing – than we are today,” he said.
He added that while he doesn’t ”want to over-promise anything,” he believes that ”significantly fewer people” will have to stay socially distanced and wear masks one year from now.
Biden said his goal is for the majority of schools serving kindergarten through eighth-grade students to reopen for in-person classes before his first 100 days in office come to a close, according to The Associated Press.
”I said open a majority of schools in K through eighth grade, because they’re the easiest to open, the most needed to be open in terms of the impact on children and families having to stay home,” he said.
His remarks came one week after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the goal was for the majority of schools to hold in-person classes at least one day a week, prompting backlash.
“That was a mistake in the communication,” Biden said of Psaki’s comments.
He later added: ”I think that we should be vaccinating teachers; we should move them up in the hierarchy, as well.”
When a mother, who appeared at the town hall with her daughter, spoke of her child’s fears about contracting COVID-19, Biden comforted the girl.
”First of all, kids don’t get ... COVID very often; it’s very unusual for that to happen. The evidence so far is children aren’t the people most likely to get COVID,” he told her, adding, ”You’re the safest group of people in the whole world.”
He continued: ”You’re not likely to be able to be exposed to something and spread it to Mommy and Daddy, and it’s not likely Mommy and Daddy are able to spread it to you, either. So I wouldn’t worry about it, baby, I promise you.”
Biden said multiple times that he is ”tired of talking about” his predecessor.
”Don’t want to talk about him anymore,” he said while responding to a question about financial aid for small businesses.
When asked later about the recent impeachment trial, he echoed the sentiment.
”For four years, all that’s been in the news is Trump,” Biden said. ”The next four years, I want to make sure all the news is the American people.”
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