President Joe Biden, during Tuesday evening’s CNN town hall, provided a rough timeline on when he believes the United States may be able to return to a level of pre-pandemic normalcy, identifying “next Christmas” as a potential marker.
“When do you think this pandemic is — I mean, when are we — when is it going to be done? When are we going to get back to normal?” CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Biden, who explained that experts have warned him to refrain from making such predictions.
“They tell me, be careful not to predict things that you don’t know for certain what’s going to happen because then you’ll be held accountable. I get that,” Biden said, adding that he has hope that the vaccines will continue to “diminish” the spread of the disease, creating herd immunity.
“And now they’re saying, somewhere around 70 percent of the people have to constitute, some people said 50, 60, but a significant number have to be in a position where they are — they have been vaccinated and/or they’ve been through it or … and have antibodies,” Biden said before offering his vague prediction.
“So if that works that way, as my mother would say, with the grace of God and the goodwill of the neighbors, that by next Christmas, I think we’ll be in a very different circumstance, God willing, than we are today,” he said.
It remains unclear if Biden meant Christmas 2021 or Christmas 2022. However, Biden previewed what society could look like one year from now, February 2022. He did not envision an America completely absent of masks and social distancing. Rather, there will be “significantly fewer people having to be socially distanced, have to wear a mask,” the president said, but Biden added that officials in his administration ultimately “don’t know.”
“So I don’t want to overpromise anything here. I told you when I ran and when I got elected, I will always level with you,” he said, again emphasizing that he and his team “don’t know for certain” when the U.S. will reach a level of normalcy.
“But it is highly unlikely that by the beginning of next year, school — traditional school year in September, we are not significantly better off than we are today,” he added, using the opportunity to urge people to continue wearing masks and social distancing.
“That can save a lot of lives while we’re getting to this point, we get to herd immunity,” he added.
Biden predicted that the U.S. will have over 600 million doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of July, “enough to vaccinate every single American.”
During the town hall, the President also claimed that they “didn’t have” the vaccine when he came into office despite receiving both doses of the Pfizer vaccine during Trump’s presidency.