The president said Tuesday night at the CNN Town Hall that the country could be under a "very different circumstance" by Christmastime

By Ashley Boucher and Claudia Harmata
February 17, 2021 12:08 AM
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Joe Biden
| Credit: SAUL LOEB/getty images

During his CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Tuesday evening, Joe Biden reassured a second-grade girl who asked when children will be able to receive the novel coronavirus vaccine.

Jessica Salas, a graphic designer, told the president how frightening the ongoing pandemic has been for her children, including 8-year-old daughter Layla, who stood with her mom at the microphone.

"They are watching as others get the vaccine, and they would like to know, when will kids be able to get the vaccine?" Salas asked, per footage from CNN.

"First of all, kids don't get COVID very often, it's unusual for that to happen," Biden said, addressing Layla. He went on to explain that the vaccine has not yet been approved for use by children.

Joe Biden
| Credit: SAUL LOEB/getty images

"We haven't even done tests yet on children as to whether or not the certain vaccines would work or not work or what is needed," he said. "You're the safest group of people in the whole world."

Biden added to the little girl that it was unlikely that she would spread the virus to her parents, and vice versa.

"I wouldn't worry about it, baby. I promise you. But I know it's kind of worrisome," he said. "Don't be scared, honey. Don't be scared. You are going to be fine and we are going to make sure mommy is fine, too."

Elsewhere during the town hall, Biden said that the U.S. could be under a "very different circumstance" by Christmastime.

When asked by Anderson Cooper, who moderated the town hall, when the country might be back to normal, Biden said: "It's a high probability that the vaccinations that are available today — and the new one, Johnson & Johnson, God willing will prove to be useful — that with those vaccinations, the ability to continue to spread the disease is going to diminish considerably because of what they call herd immunity. ... By next Christmas I think we'll be in a very different circumstance, God willing, than we are today."

"A year from now, I think that there'll be significantly fewer people having to be socially distanced, have to wear a mask, etc. But we don't know," he said, "so I don't want to over-promise anything here."

The president added that improvements in the pandemic will only happen if people continue to wear masks, social distance and wash their hands.

Milwaukee marks Biden's first official trip as president. In addition to his short stay in Wisconsin, the president will be heading to Michigan on Thursday to visit a Pfizer manufacturing site in Kalamazoo, USA Today reported.

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Biden's travels come just days after former President Donald Trump's acquittal in his second impeachment trial, which cast a shadow on his in his first days in office. However, it did not stop him from signing a number of executive orders, some reversing policies put in place by his predecessor.

"I'm tired of talking about Trump," Biden quipped during Tuesday's town hall.

Prior to his inauguration, Biden has long said managing the COVID-19 pandemic is his administration's main priority. He is currently pushing Congress to approve his $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package.

President Joe Biden
| Credit: The White House/YouTube

The proposed relief bill, unveiled last month, would include $350 billion in state and local aid, $1,400 direct payments to Americans, expanded unemployment benefits and institute a $15 federal minimum wage by 2025.

Republicans have objected to the scope of the aid offered in the proposal, while the White House argues the economic damage from the pandemic requires a widespread response.

Biden also recently announced that the U.S. has secured contracts from both Moderna and Pfizer to deliver an additional 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine each by the end of July. A total of 600 million doses will have been delivered to the U.S. by mid-summer — more than a month earlier than initially anticipated, the president said.

Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty

"We've now purchased enough vaccine supplies to vaccinate all Americans," Biden said, via USA Today, something he reiterated Tuesday night. "Now we're working to get those vaccines into the arms of millions of people."

He noted that the timeline could further accelerate if a third COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson receives FDA approval.

Biden is also already establishing positive relations with foreign leaders. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday that he and Biden have already had a number of "fantastic conversations" within the new president's first four weeks in office, per CBS News' Face the Nation.

Johnson is scheduled to host Biden and other world leaders for a virtual G7 conference this Friday to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and to call for further international cooperation on vaccine distribution, according to a rundown of the gathering set out by the U.K. government.

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