President Joe Biden celebrated news the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted their mask mandate for fully vaccinated Americans Thursday.
“Today is a great day for America in our long battle with the coronavirus,” Biden said.
The president emerged from the Oval Office without his mask and approached the podium in the Rose Garden where Vice President Kamala Harris stood and complemented his smile.
I think it’s a great milestone. A great day,” Biden said. “It’s been made possible by the extraordinary success we’ve had in vaccinating so many Americans so quickly.”
The president told Americans if they were vaccinated, they could again hug people and shake their hands.
If you’ve been vaccinated you don’t have to wear your mask and you can shake hands,” Biden said. “Can even give each other a hug.”
Biden celebrated his administration’s efforts to get Americans vaccinated and thanked everyone who had already gotten their shots.
You know, some people said we couldn’t do this. That will not be until the fall that we had this many people vaccinated. That 2021 might be a lost year for our country, as 2020 was,” he said. “But what we proved the doubters wrong.”
The president praised Americans for getting vaccinated, calling it a “patriotic duty” everyone should follow.
Biden stressed Americans who have not been fully vaccinated still must wear masks.
“For now, after a year of hard work and so much sacrifice, the rule is very simple,” he said. “Get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.”
Mispronouncing text on his teleprompter, Biden added, “It’s Vax-ed or masked.”
He urged Americans not to mistreat others who have not yet gotten their vaccine shots.
“It’s going to take a little more time for everyone who wants to get vaccinated to get their shots,” he said. “So all of us, let’s be patient. Be patient with one another.”
The president also called for people to sympathize with people who wanted to keep wearing masks.
“You know, some may say I just feel more comfortable continuing to wear a mask. They may feel that way,” he said. “So if you’re someone with a mask, you see them, please treat them with kindness and respect.”
When asked by a reporter how he would get more Americans to get vaccinated, the president said he was optimistic the majority of Americans would do it voluntarily.
“It’s not an enforcement thing. We’re not gonna go out and arrest people,” he said.