Remarks by Vice President Harris at a Vaccine Mobilization Event
3:49 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: My Lord. (Laughs.) Oh, yes. Pastor. (Applause.) My Lord. All right now. (Laughter.) Look at our youth choir. Oh my goodness, you all just — just voices of angels. (Laughter.)
Tamara, you know, we were hanging out a little back stage. I said, “You okay?” She said, “I’m kind of nervous.” That girl wasn’t nervous at all. (Laughter.) She had the — (laughs) — but, my goodness, her story — and I hope you know about it — is a story of courage, and it’s a story of so many people. Tamara, I’m so honored that you introduced me, given all that you have been through and all you continue to do to hold up so many people. Just a story of courage, mixed with conviction, mixed with grace. That’s who she is. Can we hear it again for Tamara, please? (Applause.)
Well, hello, Michigan. Hello, Detroit. (Applause.) It is so good to be back with you again. To the Detroit Youth Choir, it’s so good to hear you all again.
And I want to thank a friend, a leader — certainly of Michigan’s but a national leader — Governor Gretchen Whitmer. (Applause.) She really is an extraordinary leader on every level and I’m so honored to share the stage with her today, as we have before.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist — (applause) — Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence — (applause) — Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib — (applause) — Mayor Mike Duggan, there you are — (applause) — and all the other elected leaders: Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you do. It truly is good to be back.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you! (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) So, I bring you all greetings from myself, of course, but also from your President, Joe Biden. (Applause.) So thank you all for showing up here today.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And thank you. We’re here together.
And for showing up for our communities and showing up, in this case, for the city of Detroit. Detroit really is — and I’ve been here many times, so I say this with knowledge: Detroit really is the definition of resilience. It really is. Time and again — time and again, this city has been rebuilt. This city has been reborn. Time and again, this city has helped lead our nation through war, through a recession, and most recently, through this pandemic.
At the very start of the pandemic, companies in Detroit — from small batch manufacturers to Big Three automakers — converted their factories and produced protective gear and ventilators for our nation’s hospitals. You did that, not only for the folks locally, but nationally.
As COVID-19 cases rose, it was Detroit’s frontline workers who worked around the clock — (applause) — around the clock to help care for those who were sick. We heard Tamara talk about the personal prayer, in addition to the prayer for the community and for the world. Those frontline workers, like her and so many others, risked their own lives — and they knew they were — for the sake of taking care of, in many cases, perfect strangers.
You know, I do believe in moments of crisis there are revelations and an unveiling of the heroes walking among us. And I would say, among the heroes walking among us as we live on Earth right now, the frontline workers are front and center. (Applause.)
And here in Detroit, as families went hungry, Detroit’s food markets worked in communities to help feed those in need.
And again, I’ll tell you a story. I’d — you know, I’d been traveling around the country — and I know it’s true in Detroit, as it is in other places — where I’ve heard stories about food distribution centers, where folks would work and volunteer. Some had lost their jobs and they’d volunteer in the food distribution center, others would volunteer their time.
And because of the nature of COVID, the — the recipient would be in line in their car, sometimes for hours, and then when they drive up to the place where they were supposed to get the food, they’d pop their trunk — because of course there was no interaction — physical interaction — and the volunteer would look in the trunk — the empty trunk — and see, there, a handwritten note written by the driver — the occupant of the car, thanking the volunteer for the time that they took to help them.
Other times, the volunteers — when the trunk would pop open, there’d be a five-dollar bill. People who had nothing, barely could make it, and what little left they had to thank the volunteers for the value of their time and their labor.
These moments of crisis have, in so many ways, unveiled the grace, the dignity that each of us know we have and should give. So, as we reflect, Detroit, on these days, these are the things I think about.
As schools here in Detroit went vi- — virtual, Detroit teachers went the extra mile to educate the city’s students. (Applause.) Went the extra mile.
And, of course, we are gathered here at TCF. And during the pandemic, this center served many purposes. It was converted into a temporary care facility, before it was converted into a vaccination site. We are joined today by healthcare workers who administered vaccines here and across the city. (Applause.) You are the heroes; you are among those heroes I was speaking of.
And so, thank you, all. Thank you, on behalf of our country. Thank you, on behalf of the folks that you may never meet and the folks that may never know your name, but because of your work and your resilience, are all the better for what you’ve done.
And so, here we are today. And we are together and we’re thinking about a lot. And we know that, across our nation, COVID-19 cases are down from the peak. COVID-19 hospitalizations are down. COVID-19 deaths have fallen by 90 percent.
The vaccine gave us the upper hand against this virus. And nearly 160 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, more than 4.75 million here in Michigan.
This is incredible progress. And we need to build on that progress. And we need to build on that progress now, because there are still a whole lot of folks who are not yet vaccinated. And that is certainly true here in Detroit.
So, I’m here to say “thank you,” “congratulations,” and “we have more work to do.” (Laughter and applause.)
So, the President and I, together with state and local officials like those here today — and I see the Secretary of State, who is here, and thank you for your leadership — (applause) — we’ll keep pushing to get every eligible American vaccinated.
Last week, the President spoke about what our administration is doing to boost vaccination rates, and basically, it boils down to two big things: We are bringing the facts — the facts — not misinformation, the facts — directly to the people. (Applause.) And that’s a big deal, as you all know. We got to get the facts out, because sadly there’s a lot of misinformation. So, let’s know what it is, and let’s talk to our neighbors and our friends and say, “Here, let me tell you about the facts.” Okay? The facts — one. And two, bringing the vaccine directly to the people. Okay?
So we have volunteers who are going door to door to give people information about the vaccines. Why? Because we shouldn’t require that people knock on our door to find out what’s going on. Let’s take it to the streets, take it to the people. That’s what we’re talking about doing. Knock on those doors. “Hello, neighbor.” (Laughter.)
We also have vaccines being sent to primary care doctors and pediatricians — (applause) — pediatricians who, so often, will treat the child and then, as they’re treating the child, look over at the mother or the father and say, “Well, how are you doing?” (Laughter.) Right?
And we are setting up clinics in workplaces and sending mobile clinics into communities. We are leaving no stone unturned because we know getting vaccinated — here’s the thing: Getting vaccinated is the single-best defense against COVID-19 and its variants. It’s the single-best defense.
And, folks, this Delta variant is no joke. Detroit, this — this Delta variant, it spreads faster, and it is in many cases reported to be much more serious in terms of its impact. And the vaccine will protect you from it. And here’s how I know: Virtually every person who is in the hospital sick with COVID-19 right now is unvaccinated.
I’m going to repeat that. Virtually — it’s a fact — paying attention — (laughter and applause). Virtually every person who is in the hospital right now sick with COVID-19 is unvaccinated.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Wow.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And even more, regrettably, virtually every person who has recently died from COVID-19 was unvaccinated. The loss. The tragedy of that loss. Literally every person who has died from COVID-19 that we have recently been seeing was unvaccinated.
You know, you hear doctors now talking about when they’re treating someone in the hospital these days for COVID-19, and then they ask, “Well, have you been vaccinated?” The kind of response they’re getting — sometimes it’s nonverbal, but it’s kind of people looking down and saying, “No, I haven’t been vaccinated.”
So, let’s do this in a way that we don’t judge anybody.
We’re not looking down on anybody, but we do want to give them the information because nobody should have to live with any kind of sense or feeling of regret when there’s so much that’s available to help them.
You know, I got my second shot back in January, and I’m so glad I did. And, of course, you know, look, I thought I can handle anything, but that next day — (laughter) — that next day, I was a little off for a couple of — you know, I was just not feeling so well that next day. But that was it, and then back to — back to normal. Right? So, yeah — so, okay, that’s part of it, but it’s just, you know, a few hours, and it can save your life. It can save your life.
In the words of your own, Miggy — Miguel Cabrera — (applause) — he said that, “The shots are nowhere near as bad as the virus.” (Applause.) Fact. Fact.
So, if you have not yet been vaccinated — you know, some people said, “I’m going to wait. I want to wait and see how this all turns out,how everybody else is doing with it” — right? — “so, I’m going to give it — I’m going to give it six months.” It’s July. (Laughter.) It’s time. It’s time. So, it is time, and it is time to roll up your sleeves and get the shot.
And if you already have, find someone who hasn’t and help them and talk to them, as we are having this conversation now borne out of love, borne out of concern, and borne out of knowledge, again, that it will save lives.
You know, a couple weeks ago, I was — I was down in Atlanta at Ebenezer Baptist Church. And it was good to be back there. And the church — of course, you all know this is the church where Dr. King preached until the day he died. And today, it is a place of worship. But as most places of worship, also a place of healing; it is a vaccination site. Then and now, a place of healing.
And when I was there, I talked with a bunch of folks and, in particular, I met with a bunch of folks who had just been vaccinated and the healthcare workers who administered the vaccines. And I said then which — what I will repeat today: I do believe that the act of getting vaccinated is the very essence — the very essence of what the Bible tells us when it says, “Love thy neighbor.” Right?
Because what we know is — one can ask, “Well, who is one’s neighbor? Is it the person who lives to my left, lives to my right? I know them — may borrow a cup of sugar.” Right? But what we know it means when we talk about “love thy neighbor” is that, yes, it may be the person next door; and it may be the man on the side of the road; and it may be a perfect stranger, and in the face of that stranger, you see a friend. That’s what this is about. And so, by getting vaccinated, you are loving your neighbor.
And so, I will end, Reverend Anthony, where I began — (laughter) — with the point about Detroit’s resilience. Detroit, you know better than most resilience is not automatic. Not everybody has it. Resilience is made. Resilience takes determination and it takes work. And resilience requires love.
So, in that spirit and in the spirit of resilience, let us rise up, Detroit. Let us rise up, Michigan. Let us rise up, America. And let us end this pandemic once and for all. We can do this together. I know we can.
Thank you. (Applause.)
4:07 P.M. EDT