In a grim address to the nation as the United States surpassed half a million coronavirus deaths on Monday, Joe Biden urged the country to unify in its battle against the virus.
“I ask all Americans to remember those we lost and those we left behind. But as we all remember, I also ask that we act, that we be vigilant, that we remain socially distanced, that we mask ourselves, that we get vaccinated when it is your turn, “said the president in his speech from the White House.
Biden used the speech to urge Americans to overcome partisanship and follow public health guidelines as his administration rushes to distribute vaccines and end the pandemic.
Biden has previously been criticized for being overly cautious in setting targets for vaccine distribution, but the administration has said it has increased vaccination rates to 1.7 million per day and is on track to exceed its goal of administering 100 million injections within the first 100 days of administration.
The president’s speech on Monday, however, did not focus on metrics. Instead, Biden focused on the loss Americans have felt due to the pandemic and the broader issue of coming together, something Biden has emphasized throughout his campaign.
“We must end the policy of disinformation that divides families, communities and the country; that has already cost too many lives, ”Biden continued in his speech. “It is not the Democrats or the Republicans who are dying from the virus. They are our compatriots, they are our neighbors. They are our friends, our mothers, our fathers, our daughters, husbands, wives. We have to fight this together as one people, like the United States of America. That’s the only way we’re going to beat this virus, I promise you. “
Biden’s speech was marked by solemn rituals to honor the 500,000 deaths. Before his speech, the National Cathedral rang its bells 500 times; The president then joined First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff outside the White House, where they observed a moment of silence surrounded by 500 candles.
The Biden administration’s approach to tackling the pandemic is markedly different from that of the Trump administration. Where Trump was routinely ignorant of the severity of the virus, Biden’s team has organized multiple events to acknowledge its severity, including a prime-time address, a memorial ceremony and a moment of silence. Biden and his team have emphasized the importance of remembering how terrible the pandemic is.
“As a nation, we cannot accept such a cruel fate. While we have been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to pain, “Biden said.
The US has recorded the worst death toll of any country in the world, but there are promising signs ahead. Hospitalizations have dropped more than 50% across the country in the last month, and as of Sunday, more than 13% of the US population has received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.
Biden’s speech spoke to this optimism, saying that the United States and the world would overcome the pandemic.
“That this is not a story of how much we fell, but of how much we rose again. We can do this, ”Biden said.
“This nation will smile again. This nation will once again know sunny days. This nation will once again know joy, and in doing so, we will remember each person we have lost, the lives they have lived, the loved ones they have left behind. We’ll get through this, I promise you. “