Biden says US may be back to normal by ‘next Christmas’

PHOTO: Taylor Glascock for CNN

President Biden took questions from Americans on the coronavirus pandemic, school reopenings, vaccines, the minimum wage and White supremacy at CNN’s town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was his first town hall since becoming President.

In case you missed it, here’s what you need to know about Biden’s town hall:

He urged Americans to get the vaccines: Biden advised Americans to get any coronavirus vaccine they can, whenever they can. New variants may eventually reduce the efficacy of vaccines against coronavirus, he said. The more the virus circulates, the more likely it is to change into vaccine-resistant forms. So, people should not wait and see, he urged.

Biden said country may be back to normal by “next Christmas”: He said he is cautious of predicting a timeline, but pointed to “next Christmas” as a moment where the nation could be under a “very different circumstance.” Biden noted that with the current vaccinations, and the upcoming Johnson & Johnson vaccination, the ability to continue to spread the disease “is going to diminish considerably” due to herd immunity.

On why he wants to increase the minimum wage: Biden defended his administration’s call to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. “The vast majority of the economists and there are studies that show by increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, it could have an impact on a number of businesses, but it would be de minimis, et cetera. Here’s the deal. It’s about doing it gradually,” Biden said.

He offered to help this mother tonight: Biden offered to personally help a mother worried about getting a coronavirus vaccine for her 19-year-old immunocompromised son with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). “If you’re willing, I’ll stay around after this is over and maybe we can talk a few minutes and see if I can get you some help,” Biden said.

Biden wants to stay away from anything related to Trump: Biden said any decision to prosecute former President Trump for anything he did while in office will be left up to the Department of Justice, and he will not interfere in a possible investigation. “Look, for four years all that’s been in the news is Trump. The next four years I want to make sure all the news is the American people,” he said. Biden added: “I’m tired of talking about Trump.”

On White supremacists: Biden said White supremacists are the greatest domestic terror threat in the US during a town hall event. “It’s complex, it’s wide ranging, and it’s real,” Biden added. “I would make sure that my Justice Department and the Civil Rights Division is focused heavily on those very folks, and I would make sure that we, in fact, focus on how to deal with the rise of White supremacy,” he said.

Biden thinks the nation is not divided: Biden said he takes issue with “everybody” stating that the US is a divided country. Biden explained that he believes most people in the country agree on issues like coronavirus aid. “The nation is not divided. You go out there and take a look and talk to people, you have fringes on both ends. But it’s not nearly as divided as we make it out to be and we have to bring it together,” Biden said.

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