Remarks by President Biden on the COVID-19 Response and the Vaccination Program
The White House
May 17, 2021
1:22 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. There are three things I want to speak briefly today with you all about: the new — new milestone in our progress against COVID-19 here at home, steps we’re taking to fight COVID internationally, and an important tax cut for families with children under the age of 18. And that’s where I’m going to start.
Today is tax day, when — when everyone’s taxes are due. No one likes to pay taxes, I know. But as my dad used to say, “It’s a small price to live in this country.” But I want to tell everyone with children why, as they are filling their taxes today — filing their taxes today, they should know that a new tax cut will be coming their way for working-class and middle-class folks, and very soon.
As everyone knows, I firmly believe — we firmly believe the need to make our tax system work for the middle class. That’s why I think we should ask corporations and the top 1 percent to start paying their fair share, and why we should crack down on millionaires and billionaires who escape taxes by cheating.
But I also think we need to give ordinary families a break — a tax break — to help them with the cost of raising their kids. Most people don’t know it, but, for families with children, we put that tax cut into the American Rescue Plan, which was signed not long ago. And I signed the tax cut into law in March.
Ninety percent of families — all middle-class and working-class families — will get this tax cut.
It’s a one-year tax cut that reduces your taxes by $3,000 a year for each child you have under the age of 18. Two kids: It’s a $6,000 tax cut. And if those kids are under the age of six, you’ll actually get $3,600 per child.
So, as you file your taxes today, know that your tax cut coming.
But this — but here’s the great news: You won’t have to wait until your next year’s tax return to get that break. I’m announcing today that on July 15th and the 15th of every month thereafter throughout the year, you will get, deposited into your bank account, half of your tax cut — at least $250 per child each month — a direct deposit into your account.
So if you’re a working family with two kids, you’re going to get $500 a month into your bank account on the 15th of every month, starting in July. We’re getting — and we are getting you a tax cut this year — now, when you need it — and not have to wait.
And if you get your tax cut refund deposited in your bank account automatically, this tax cut will be put into your account automatically. If not, it will be mailed to you.
In addition to helping Americans hard-pressed and working families, experts have told us that this will cut child poverty in America in half.
This tax cut sends a clear and powerful message to American working — working families with children: Help is here.
Now let me take — talk to another milestone in our long battle with COVID. Today, for the first time since the pandemic began, cases — pandemic cases are down in all 50 states. First time. That’s right: Thanks a lot to the hard work of so many people, COVID cases are down in all 50 states.
Now, I can’t promise that will continue this way. We know there will be advances and setbacks, and we know that there are many flare-ups that could occur.
But if the unvaccinated get vaccinated, they will protect themselves and other unvaccinated people around them. If they do not, states with low vaccination rates may see those rates go up — may see this progress reversed.
Ultimately, those who are not vaccinated will pay — end up paying the price. The vaccinated will continue to be protected against severe illnesses, but others may not be if you’re not vaccinated.
But given that the vaccination is convenient and free, it will be a tragedy if — and a needless one — to see COVID cases among those who do not get vaccinated go up.
We are not done fighting this virus. We still have tens of millions left to vaccinate. But we are making significant progress.
In fact, when tomorrow’s vaccination numbers come out, they’ll show that 60 percent — 60 percent of Americans have received at least one shot.
Every day, the light at the end of that tunnel is growing brighter. This vaccination effort has been an historic logistical achievement for our nation. And I want to thank the scientists and researchers; the companies manufacturing the vaccines; the National Guard; the U.S. military; FEMA; the nation’s governors; doctors, nurses, pharmacists. And I want to thank the American people who have stepped up and done their patriotic duty and gotten vaccinated.
In less than four months, we’ve gone from less than 6 percent to 60 percent of adults in America with at least one shot. We’re seeing the results in live — and we see the results in people’s lives and in their livelihoods.
Deaths are down from COVID by 81 percent and also at their lowest levels since April of 2020.
As a result of our prompt action to roll out the vaccine and boost the economy, we’ve gone from stagnation to an economy that is growing faster than it has in nearly 40 years. We’ve gone from anemic job creation to a record of creation for more — for a new administration. None has ever created this many jobs in this timeframe.
The progress is undeniable, but we’re not done yet. And some of the hardest work is ahead.
We’re still losing too many Americans and we still have too many unvaccinated people in America. Last week, the CDC announced that if you’re fully vaccinated, you no longer have
to wear a mask. They reported that science — the science now shows that your vaccination protects you as well as being masked or better than being masked.
So you can protect yourself from serious illness from COVID by getting vaccinated or wearing a mask until you are fully vaccinated. Either way, you’re protected.
As I said last week, some people may want to continue to wear a mask even if they are fully vaccinated. That’s a decision they can make. Some businesses may want to continue
to require wearing masks.
Let’s all be kind and respectful to one another as we come out of this pandemic and respect those who want to continue to wear a mask even if they’ve been vaccinated.
Above all, let’s work together, though, to meet the target I’ve set of 70 percent of adults — all adults — with at least one shot by July the 4th. Seven states have already done this.
Getting vaccinated has never been easier. We are at 80,000 locations where you can get a shot. Ninety percent of you live within five miles of one of those locations.
You can find a vaccine site near you by texting your ZIP Code to 438829. 438829. Your ZIP Code and that number. You’ll get all the places near you.
Many places don’t require an appointment. Just walk in and get the shot. It’s free, and everyone 12 years and above is eligible.
If you need help getting your vaccine site — getting to or from your vaccina- — vaccination site, Lyft and Uber are offering free rides betw- — to take you to the vaccination site and bring you back home between May 24th and July the 4th — to anyone who wants to get vaccinated.
And I have called on employers to do their part as well, offering their employees paid time off to get vaccinated. And we’ve set up a program nationally to reimburse those businesses for the cost of giving employees the time off.
Now it’s time to get your shot. We have the vaccine. We’ve secured enough supply to vaccinate all adults and children above the age of 12. I repeat: Now is the time to get your vaccine shot.
Now, over the past 118 days, our vaccinations program has led the world. And today, we’re taking an additional step to help the world. We know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic that is raging globally is under control. No ocean is wide enough, no wall is high enough to keep us safe.
Rampant disease and death in other countries can destabilize them — those countries — and pose a risk to us as well. New variants could arise overseas that could put us at greater risk. And we need to help fight the disease around the world to keep us safe here at home and to do the right thing of helping other people. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do. It’s the strong thing to do.
In March, we shared over 4 million doses of our AstraZeneca vaccine with Canada and Mexico. At the end of April, we announced that we would provide another 60 million doses of our AstraZeneca vaccine overseas.
Remember, this is the vaccine that is not authorized for use in the United States yet, so we’re going to be sending it to folks once the FDA has reviewed this and said it’s safe. This is all the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in the United States — all of it will be sent to other countries.
And today, I’m announcing that we’ll also share U.S.-authorized vaccines doses of Pfizer and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, as they become available, with the rest of the world as well. These are vaccinations and vaccines that are authorized to be put in arms of Americans.
And by the end of June, when we’ll have taken delivery of enough of such vaccines to protect everyone in the United States, the United States will share at least 20 million doses of those doses — that extra supply — with other countries.
This means, over the next six weeks, the United States of America will send 80 million doses overseas. That represents 13 percent of the vaccines produced by the United States by the end of June. This will be more vaccines than any country has actually shared to date — five times more than any other country — more than Russia and China, which have donated 15 million doses.
You know, there’s a lot of talk about Russia and China influencing the world with vaccines. We want to lead the world with our values — with this demonstration of our innovation, ingenuity, and the fundamental decency of the American people.
Just as in World War Two America was the arsenal of democracy, in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic,
our nation is going to be the arsenal of vaccines for the rest of the world. We’ll share these vaccines in the service of ending the pandemic everywhere. And we will not use our vaccines to secure favors from other countries.
We will work with COVAX — the international organization that’s set up — and other partners to ensure that the vaccines are delivered in a way that is equitable and that follows the science and the public health data.
Today’s announcement to share 80 million doses is our next step as we ramp up the efforts to respond to COVID-19 around the world.
In the weeks ahead, working the world — with the world’s democracies, we’ll coordinate a multilateral effort to end this pandemic. I expect to announce progress in this area at the G7 Summit in the United Kingdom in June, which I plan on attending.
This is a unique moment in history, and it requires American leadership. But I want to be clear: Beating this pandemic globally is beyond the capacity of any one nation, even the United States. But we’ll continue — the United States will continue to donate our excess supply as that supply is delivered to us, but that won’t be nearly enough.
We need — what we need to do is lead an entirely new effort — an effort that involves working with the pharmaceutical companies and others and partner nations to vastly increase supply, to create, particular- — pract- — most of it here in the United States — the kind of capacity that can beat this pandemic worldwide in a way that creates jobs here at home and saves lives abroad.
This will take longer than our immediate work to donate from the existing supplies. And we’re going to be asking other nations to help shoulder the economic costs of this effort, but the consequences will be more lasting and more dramatic.
Doing this will help us beat the pandemic and leave us with the manufacturing capacity here to prepare for the next crisis — the next vaccine needed.
I’m putting Jeff Zients, who is leading our COVID team and the COVID efforts to beat the virus here in the United States, in charge of this effort. Jeff will be working with our National Security Council and a talented, dedicated team that has been stood up all across our government. It’ll include Gayle Smith at the State Department leading in diplomacy, and experts from our Agency for International Development and the Department of Health and Human Services as well. We’re going to bring the same whole-of government response to the global effort that made us so successful here at home.
Again, we have enough — we have secu- — we, the United States, has secured enough supply for all eligible Americans — all Americans, 12 years — 12 years old and older. And we still have work to do though. Hard work.
But because we have done so much here, because of the power of American companies, research, and manufacturing, we can continue to do more to help the rest of the world. This is a rapidly changing world, and it’s a mistake to bet against democracies.
Just as democracies led the world in the darkness of World War Two, democracies will lead the world out of this pandemic. And America will lead those democracies as they work to bring greater health and hope to the world in the months to come.
And, folks, think back: Four months ago — four months ago, it was an audacious goal that we had to put a million shots in the arms in my first 100 days as President — 100 million, I should say. We did over 220 million shots in that timeframe.
Back then, most adults weren’t eligible to get the shot. Now everyone 12 years and older is eligible. And, tomorrow, 60 percent — by tomorrow, 60 percent of all American adults will have received at least one shot.
Look at what we’ve done. Look at what we’ve done, America. Look at what you’ve done, America. There is not a single thing beyond our capacity to do in this country when we decide to do it and we do it together. We can do whatever we set our minds to do if we do it together. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do: solve the problem here in the United States, which we’re well on our way of doing, and help solve the problem for the world by organizing the rest of the democracies of the world.
I want to thank you all. God bless you. And may God protect our troops. Thank you very much.
Q Mr. President, will you not insist upon a ceasefire, given the escalation in violence we’ve seen over the weekend?
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll be speaking with the Prime Minister in an hour. And I’ll be able to talk to you after that. Thank you.
1:39 P.M. EDT