United States President Joe Biden on Friday condemned violence that Asian Americans faced since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, saying “it is wrong, it is un-American and it must stop,” AFP reported. Biden was delivering a speech on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.
During his term, former President Donald Trump had repeatedly used racist and xenophobic terms like “Chinese virus” to refer to the coronavirus that was first detected in China’s Wuhan province.
Biden decried the “vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated” over the pandemic. “Too often, we’ve turned against one another,” Biden said. “At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans – they’re on the frontlines of this pandemic trying to save lives and still, still they’re forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America.”
Biden also lamented the deaths of American citizens who lost their lives to the pandemic, AP reported. “We all lost something, a collective suffering, a collective sacrifice,” he said. “I know it’s been hard, I truly know...I carry a card in my pocket with a number of Americans who have died due to Covid-19 till date...As of now, total deaths in America – 527,726 – that’s more deaths than World War I, World War II, Vietnam war and 9/11 combined.”
The United States is the worst-affected country in the world with over 2.93 crore coronavirus infections, and 5.3 lakh deaths reported so far, according to John Hopkins University. The American president said he will speed up the vaccination drive further, and will direct states to make all adults eligible for coronavirus vaccines by May 1.
The president also voiced hope that the United States will edge toward a semblance of normalcy in the coming months, noting “there is hope and light of better days ahead if we all do our part”.
The initial goal of one million vaccinations administered every day was already being easily surpassed, Biden said. He also said he had planned for the authorities to be “maintaining, beating our current pace of two million shots a day.”
The president, however, urged Americans to “stick with the rules”, also warning that the country may have to reinstate restrictions if its citizens fail to stay vigilant about physical distancing and other precautions to help stem the virus. “Please, we don’t want to do that again, we’ve made so much progress,” Biden said. “This is not the time to let up.”
Earlier in the day, the president signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus-relief bill into law for “building the backbone” of US. The package provides $400 billion for $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit and increased funding for Covid-19 vaccine distribution, according to Reuters.