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Prior to Sunday’s Super Bowl, President Joe Biden sat down for his first television network interview since taking office.
Speaking with CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell, Biden heavily discussed the novel coronavirus pandemic and how his administration is working to tackle it.
When O’Donnell mentioned that many are gathering for Super Bowl Sunday despite still being in a pandemic, Biden admitted that it wouldn’t be a surprise. “I’m sure there are. I know it’s hard. It was hard at Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s. But, you know, I hope people, if you’re watchin’, be careful. Be careful,” he warned.
As vaccinations continue to roll out, O’Donnell asked Biden for his thoughts on Dr. Fauci’s statement that at least 75 percent of Americans must get vaccinated in order to get herd immunity. “We did the math and at the current rate of 1.3 million doses a day, it’s gonna take almost a year to get there. Can we wait that long?” she asked to which Biden said no.
“That’s why– one of the disappointments was– when we came to office, is the circumstance relating to how the administration was handling COVID was even more dire than we thought,” he said, explaining that the Trump administration “had indicated there was a lot more vaccine available” but that “didn’t turn out to be the case.”
To ramp up things, Biden said he received a call through Commissioner Goodell that 32 NFL stadiums would be available for mass vaccinations. “I’m gonna tell my team they’re available and I believe we’ll use them,” Biden said. “Look, it was one thing if we had enough vaccine, which we didn’t. So we’re pushing as hard as we can to get more vaccine manufactured.”
However, Biden did note that the idea that vaccine production and achieving herd immunity before the end of this summer “is very difficult.”
In regards to school closures, Biden said it’s “a national emergency” that schools haven’t reopened and women are dropping out of the workforce. When asked if he thinks schools should reopen amid the pandemic, Biden emphasized that he thinks schools should open but “reopen safely.” “You have to have fewer people in the classroom. You have to have ventilation systems that have been reworked. Our CDC commissioner is gonna be coming out with science-based judgment, within I think as early as Wednesday as to lay out what the minimum requirements are,” Biden said.
In clips of the interview aired prior, Biden confirmed that he would not compromise on offering a fresh $1,400 stimulus check as part of the new coronavirus relief package. The direct payments are part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan currently being considered by Congress. The president stated that he is “prepared to negotiate” on who would receive this third round of pandemic financial aid.
During their sit-down, Biden also emotionally addressed his son Hunter’s memoir Beautiful Things, releasing in April, in which he writes about his struggles with addiction. “You know, I’ll bet there’s not a family you know that doesn’t have somebody in the family that had a drug problem or an alcohol problem,” Biden said. “The honesty with which he stepped forward and talked about the problem,” Biden said, adding that his honesty “gave me hope” and made him feel like “my boy is back.”
He also addressed former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, adding that Trump should stop receiving intelligence briefings “because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.”
Pres. Biden sits down with @NorahODonnell for his first network interview since taking office.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) February 5, 2021
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