President Joe Biden said children under 12 and all unvaccinated students will have to wear masks in school when the Centers for Disease Control issues new guidance as he urged people to get vaccinated on Wednesday evening during a CNN town hall.
He said tackling misinformation online was one of his top priorities and said he welcomed the way vaccine skeptics on Fox News had made a U-turn in recent days.
The event, hosted by Don Lemon, was held in a part of Cincinnati that voted heavily for former President Trump, giving Biden a chance to reach across the country’s divisions and speak directly to voters.
His first question, from a member of a school board, asked him for his message to parents worried about protecting children too young for vaccines.
‘The CDC is going to say that what we should do is, everyone under the age of 12 should probably be wearing a mask in school, that’s probably what’s going to happen,’ he said
‘Secondly, those over the age of 12, who are able to get vaccinated if you’re vaccinated, you shouldn’t wear a mask if you aren’t vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask.’
President Biden took the stage to a warm reception as he brought his messages on vaccines, infrastructure and the economy to Trump-supporting Ohio for a CNN town hall in Cincinnati
He faced questions on protecting children from COVID-19, replacing crumbling infrastructure, defunding the police, rebuilding the economy, tackling coronavirus misinformation and more
Biden said he welcomed the way vaccine skeptics on Fox News were changing their tune, although he referred to ‘one of those other networks that is not a big fan of mine’
COVID-19 cases have nearly tripled across the U.S. as doctors battle the Delta variant and a pandemic of misinformation that is being spread online. Deaths and hospitalizations are nearly all among the unvaccinated.
‘If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the IC unit, and you’re not going to die,’ said Biden on the stage at Mount St. Joseph University.
‘So it’s gigantically important that … we all act like Americans who care about our fellow Americans.’
He expanded on the theme when a paediatrician who voted Republican said she was worried about the impact of misinformation on social media.
Twelve people he said were responsible for most of the misinformation online he said, repeating a White House talking point.
‘They’re killing people those 12 individuals,’ he said. ‘That misinformation is going to kill people, not a joke, not a joke.’
Then he delivered some good news about ‘one of those other networks that is not a big fan of mine’ – a clear reference to Fox News.
‘If you notice, as they say, in the southern part of my state, they’ve had an altar call some of those guys,’ he said.
All of a sudden they are out there saying let’s get vaccinated. The very people who before this were saying…’
He cut himself off with a smile.
‘But I shouldn’t make fun,’ he said. ‘It’s good, it’s good.
The audience asked about how to protect children from COVID-19 if they are too young for the vaccines and how he was tackling vaccine misinformation
Sean Hannity, one of the network’s primetime stars, has been urging viewers to get vaccinated.
And this week, during a discussion about deaths of unvaccinated people, the Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy also told viewers: ‘Get the shot, it will save your life.’
The audience – which Lemon said had all been vaccinated – responded warmly when Biden appeared on stage, even in an apparently heavily pro-Trump area.
Questions included what was he doing to tackle gun violence and his plans for replacing crumbling infrastructure, a hot topic in Cincinnati where the ageing Brent Spence Bridge is frequently shut to traffic.
He also took the chance to repeat talking points that are familiar to anyone tuning in to one of his video addresses but may not have been seen by busy, working families.
A surge in consumer prices would be temporary, he promised, adding that his economic plan would drive down inflation in the long term.
Ohio was once a key swing state that could deliver the White House to one candidate to another. But in recent years it has moved firmly into the red column.
Biden’s visit reflects his enduring belief that he can cross America’s political divides by appealing directly to voters.
‘Half of life is showing up, and Joe Biden shows up,’ John Anzalone, Biden’s presidential campaign pollster, told the Associated Press.
‘He’s going to be a president for people who voted for him and people who voted against him.’
U.S. President Joe Biden talks with Robert Guthrie, instructor and IBEW Local 212 Journeyman Wireman, and apprentice Nicholas Patton at an IBEW/NECA union electrician training center in Cincinnati, Ohio
Biden’s visit is a reminder of how the president believes he can avoid the country’s divides by connecting directly with voters in Republican states such as Ohio
The state faces a particularly lively election next year following the retirement of Sen. Rob Portman, one of the more centrist Republicans who was involved in negotiating the bipartisan $973 billion infrastructure plan that now hangs in the balance.
Republicans are more focused on violent crime and the increase in migrants at the southern border.
‘President Joe Biden will visit a great city suffering from devastating levels of violent crime caused by the failed leadership of Democrat Mayor John Cranley,’ said Ohio Republican Party Chair Bob Paduchik, before the visit.
Before the town hall in Cincinnati, Biden visited a training center for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to discuss his policies to create union jobs.
‘The alarm goes off we’re going to run,’ he joked as he walked into an area where apprentices are taught how to install and repair fire alarms.
He met an apprentice and heard about training programs.
Biden said ‘unions are the best’ when it comes to training, saying they “built the middle class.”