“A year ago, we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked, denials for days, weeks then months — that led to more deaths, more infections, more stress, and more loneliness,” the president said. “We lost faith in whether our government and our democracy can deliver on really hard things for the American people.”
Without ever mentioning Trump by name, Biden highlighted issues over which his predecessor has been criticized, like the importance of wearing a mask and “listening to the science” in deciding how to best reopen the economy.
“A mask, the easiest thing to do to save lives, sometimes it divides us, states pit it against one another instead of working with each other,” Biden noted, nodding to the recent decision by Republican-led states to lift coronavirus restrictions, including mask mandates.
Biden encouraged Americans to listen to the advice issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in continuing to wear masks “to save lives.”
Trump’s refusal to wear a mask until several months into the pandemic was an issue Biden was critical of throughout the presidential race.
Biden called Dr. Anthony Fauci “one of the most distinguished and trusted voices in the world.” The comment was a contrast to those made by Trump, who was sometimes a sharp critic of Fauci, the top doctor on his White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Biden suggested Americans were not getting honesty from Trump, reflecting on a visit he made to a small business owner in Philadelphia last summer.
“Looking me right in the eye, she said, ‘I just want the truth’,” he said, describing what the business owner said she needed most to help her through the pandemic.
“My fellow Americans, you’re owed nothing less than the truth,” Biden added.
He noted that when he entered office, only 8 percent of people age 65 and up had received their first vaccine shot, contrasting that with the numbers who have gotten the vaccine under his presidency.
The vaccines had only recently been made available when Biden took office Jan. 20.
But defenders of President Trump have noted that Operation Warp Speed — the Trump administration’s effort to help develop coronavirus vaccines — helped produced results in less than a year, a timeframe considered fast for vaccine development.
“President Biden’s plan is to rely on the work that has already been done by Operation Warp Speed,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., wrote on Twitter on Thursday night. “That’s why only 9% of his ‘relief’ bill went to defeating the virus.
“What American needs now is to fully reopen our economy and our classrooms,” McCarthy added.
Biden highlighted how since entering the White House he has been working with Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to “manufacture and purchase hundreds of millions of doses” of vaccines — meaning 65 percent of elderly people have received the coronavirus vaccine in the last two months.
Trump could not be immediately reached by Fox News for comment.