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Please note: This is a rush transcript that may not be in its final form, and may be updated. You can see, they are all appropriately socially distanced tonight. He's from Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. It's close to you here in Philadelphia. We know that your administration would follow the science. My question for you is two parts. First, looking backwards to when this country first became aware of COVID, what would following the science have meant in terms of actual policy?
And then, looking forward, what would your administration do in terms of following the science with real concrete policies that haven't been done by the current administration? BIDEN: Well, first of all, going back, the fact is that we -- the president was informed how dangerous this virus was. And all the way back in the beginning of February, I argued that we should be keeping people in China.
And we had set up in our administration a pandemic office within the White House, there were 44 people on the ground. I suggested we should be seeking, and I didn't hold public office, I was a former vice president, I suggested we, in fact, ask -- to have access to the source of the problem. And to the best of our knowledge, Trump never pushed that. All those 44 people came home, never got replaced.
Trump denied it. He said it wasn't. We later learned that he knew full well how serious it was when he did an interview with George Woodward -- I mean, excuse me, Bob Woodward. And at the time, he said he didn't tell anybody because he was afraid Americans would panic. Then I wrote a piece in March about what I thought we should be doing to take hold of this, using the -- there's an act that was passed a long time ago that allows the president to go into a business and say, stop making this and start making that, and took a long time for him to even institute that to get ventilators and so on.
And so, the point was, he missed enormous opportunities and kept saying things that weren't true. It's going to go away by Easter, don't worry about it. It's all going to -- when the heat -- when summer comes, it's all going to go away like a miracle.
He's still saying those things. Vice President, before you go to the future, can I follow back on looking back for just a little bit? You did have an op-ed in January where you warned of the seriousness of the pandemic. But there's no record of you calling for social distancing, limited social gatherings, mandatory mask That came at the end of March, and then I laid out a detailed plan relative to school openings in June and July and talked about -- but you got -- by that time, the science was becoming clearer and clearer of how this was spreading so rapidly.
But the president kept denying that. If you notice, from March on, I stopped doing big meetings, I started wearing masks, you know? So, it was at a time when the science was saying and his key people, Dr. Fauci, were saying, you should be taking these precautions. So, what we should be doing now, there should be a national standard. Instead of leaving this up to -- remember, the president said to the governors, well, they're on their own.
It's not my responsibility. The governors can do what they need to do. Not my responsibility. It is the presidential responsibility to lead. And he didn't do that. He didn't talk about what needed to be done because he kept worrying, in my view, about the stock market. He worried if he talked about how bad this could be unless we Last night in town looking for some company these precautionary actions then in fact the market would be done. And his barometer of success of the economy is the market. Thirdly, what we didn't do is the president had an opportunity to open and allow schools and businesses to stay open if he -- they got the kind of help they needed.
So the Congress Last night in town looking for some company a couple trillion dollars worth of help and what happened was most of that money -- ificant portion of that money went to the very wealthiest corporations in the country, didn't get to the mom and pop stores.
So you had one in five, one in six minority businesses closing, many of them permanently, people being laid off. And then what happened was when the first tranche of -- the first round of money for unemployment -- enhanced unemployment passed -- went -- went by, he didn't do anything. He didn't do anything. And to the best of my knowledge, and I mean this sincerely, I can't think of -- I've been around for a lot of presidents and you know a lot of presidents in a crisis -- I don't ever remember one never calling the House and Senate Republicans and Democrats together.
You said that you would lock down the economy only if the scientist said it was necessary. They said would I lock down the -- the economy is science said so. I said I'd follow science. What I -- but I don't think there's a need to lock down. He would always say that only the -- only the hard to solve problems The scientist will disagree with the economist. So the question is how are you going to decide this? Who are you going to listen to and how can you contain the pandemic without crushing the economy?
For example, I laid out a plan how you can open businesses. You can open businesses and schools if in fact you provide them the guidance that they need as well as the money to be able to do it. What's happening now is we know, for example, if you can open a business and you could have a on the door saying safe to come in, that's why people aren't going anyway when they're open. And say because you have social distancing and you have plastic barriers when you go to the cashier you have separators between the booths, you don't have large crowds, you reduce the size of the of people you can have in the restaurant.
You make sure there's testing. That's a really critical piece that he didn't do, testing and tracing. And you make sure that people are equipped going to schools. You know we initially said -- the government initially said they're going to provide masks for every student and every teacher.
And then they said no, no, no, no; FEMA said that -- the president or whomever said no, no that's not a national emergency. Not a national emergency. We need fewer -- we need more teachers in our schools to be able to open, smaller pods. We need ventilation systems change.
There's a lot of things we know now and I've let -- I laid them out in some detail. Now again, when I say I laid them out, I'm not an office holder. I'm running for office, it's not like I'm still vice president or I was a United States senator pushing this.
So I don't want to say I, I, I. But we did lay out exactly what needed to be done. And take a look, we make up 4 percent of the world's population, we have 20 percent of the world's deaths. We're in a situation where we have plus thousand people dead. And what's he doing?
He's still not wearing a mask and so on. Voted for Donald Trump in Undecided now. My question is about the coronavirus vaccine or potential. Senator Harris stated that she absolutely would not take a vaccine from President Trump. And of course we all know it's not President Trump that would create this vaccine, it would be doctors and scientist that presumably we all trust. So my question for you is if a vaccine were approved by -- between now and the end of the year, would you take it and if you were to become president, would you mandate that everyone has to take it.
one, President Trump talks about things that just aren't accurate about everything from vaccines; we're going to have one right away, it's going to happen and so on.Last night in town looking for some company
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