Notes from Joe: Together, We Will Defeat COVID-19

Just last week, on the debate stage, President Trump said, “We’re rounding the corner, it’s going away … We’re learning to live with [COVID-19].”

My response: We’re not learning to live with — we’re learning to die with it. And there is a dark winter ahead.

My heart goes out to every American who has had to endure the agony of saying goodbye to a loved one over a video chat, who couldn’t gather their friends and family to grieve together.

More than 220,000 people have lost their lives to this virus — and cases continue to spike across the country.

And yet, eight months into this crisis, Donald Trump still has no plan — just unscientific predictions that “like a miracle, it will disappear.” He has quit on you, on your family, on America. He just wants us to grow numb to the death toll and the pain.

But we don’t have to accept this Administration’s failures. We can get to the other side of this pandemic, but it’s going to take strong leadership that puts science first.

I want to take a moment to share my plan with you:

1. Fix Donald Trump’s Testing-and-Tracing Fiasco

Donald Trump thinks we should “slow the testing down.” I couldn’t disagree more.

As president, I’ll ensure every American has access to a regular, reliable, and free COVID-19 test. I will put a national testing plan in place with the goal of testing as many people each day as we are currently testing each week — a seven-fold increase. To achieve this, we need to increase both lab-based diagnostic testing, with results back in 24 hours or less, and faster, cheaper screening tests that you could take right at home or in school.

On top of that, my administration will build a national contact-tracing workforce — 100,000 Americans strong — so we can spot and stop outbreaks early.

2. Support Our Health Care Workers

I’ve had the chance to speak with heroic health care workers and first responders throughout this pandemic. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. But we owe them something more: a pay increase for putting their lives on the line.

And we need to do everything humanly possible to keep them safe. As president, I’ll use the full power of the Defense Production Act to manufacture and equitably distribute personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, gowns, and other essential supplies. Our nation must take care of those who have selflessly cared for us.

3. Lead with Science

We’re in the middle of a public health crisis, but Donald Trump has ignored the public health officials around him. He ridicules folks who wear masks and still has not put forward clear, effective COVID-19 safety protocols.

Right away, I’ll provide consistent, reliable, nationwide guidance and technical support to help our schools and businesses reopen safely — and the resources to make it happen. This is crucial to getting our kids back in school safely, our businesses growing, and our economy running again.

4. Ensure COVID-19 Treatments and Vaccines are Widely Accessible and Safe

There’s no substitute for a vaccine. A vaccine is crucial to combating this virus, which is why it’s unconscionable that the Trump Administration isn’t doing everything to deliver one.

A Biden-Harris Administration will be different. We’ll invest $25 billion so all Americans can access the eventual vaccine, cost-free. Life-saving therapies shouldn’t just be available to the wealthy and well-connected. We need to make sure they’re widely available and affordable.

At the same time, we have to protect the vaccine from politicization. That’s why I’ll put scientists in charge of all decisions on the safety and efficacy of any vaccine. This is critical to ensuring safety and trust.

5. Protect Older Americans and Others at High Risk

COVID-19 affects us all, but we know that seniors and other at-risk Americans face even greater dangers. My administration will create a Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard so that all Americans, especially those who are particularly vulnerable, can check the level of transmissions in their neighborhood in real-time.

We also know that COVID-19 has hit communities of color particularly hard. This demands our outrage and attention. I’ll establish a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force, as proposed by Senator Harris, to address the glaring disparities in our public health response and outcomes.

6. Rebuild Our Defenses

President Obama and I understood that one of the greatest threats we face is from a global pandemic. That’s why we invested in public health programs to track, study, and deter viruses like the one we face today.

But Trump, for whatever reason, didn’t see the value. He gutted our defenses — a fatal mistake.

As president, I’ll right that wrong by reinvesting in programs that place American scientists around the world to detect deadly viruses before they reach our shores. And I’ll restore public health leadership to the National Security Council and re-engage with the World Health Organization.

7. Lead by Example

Strong presidents lead by example. But by refusing to wear a mask and openly ridiculing those who do, Trump’s created a culture where too many feel it’s safe to go out in public without a mask. That’s cost us lives. That’s unforgivable.

Science tells us that if everyone wears masks, we can save 100,000 lives over the next few months. That’s why I’ll work with governors and local authorities to ensure we have robust rules around wearing a mask in public during this pandemic — and mandate mask wearing in all federal buildings.

And I’ll continue to walk the walk and wear a mask myself — because Americans take cues from their leaders.

You have my word: if I have the honor of serving as president, I will do everything in my power to defeat this virus.

We will get through this. There will be brighter days ahead. But we need a bold, scientific plan and decisive action.

— Joe