President Biden visits Houston following disastrous winter storm
President Biden visited Houston last Friday, Feb. 26, following the disastrous winter storm that affected millions of Texans. During his visit, Biden traveled to the Harris County Emergency Operations Center, the Houston Food Bank and the Federal Emergency Management Agency COVID vaccination site at NRG stadium.
While at the Harris County Emergency Operations Center, Biden met with state and local officials including Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvestor Turner. After visiting with officials, Biden and his wife Jill Biden traveled to the Houston Food Bank to thank volunteers. After touring the COVID vaccination site at NRG stadium, Biden concluded his visit by addressing the public via livestream.
Prior to Biden's speech, Moses Glickman, the vice president of the Rice Young Democrats, emphasized the importance of discussing communities who were disproportionately affected by the storm. More specifically, Glickman spoke about the inhumane conditions that prisoners experience in Harris county.
“Every year we see horror stories coming out of Houston’s prisons about hypothermia cases, sometimes even deaths and this time we saw broken windows, snow congregating in cells, temperatures going lower than they ever have before, temperature essentially indistinguishable from the outside,” Glickman said.
At the start of his speech, Biden mentioned how FEMA has been assisting Texans following the winter storm by providing water, meals, blankets, and more.
“FEMA is providing millions of gallons of water and millions of meals, direct assistance, to uninsured homeowners to repair the damage burst pipes caused to millions of homes across this state,” Biden said.
Biden also highlighted that FEMA provided generators and diesel fuel to hospitals and nursing homes “to keep lights on.”
Following these statements, Biden began speaking about the pandemic, discussing what he believes are successes and areas for improvement so far in his presidency. Biden stated that the United States was halfway done with his goal to get one hundred million people vaccinated during his first one hundred days.
“I’m proud to say we’re halfway there: 50 million shots,” Biden said.
Biden also said he has worked to increase the number of vaccinators by bringing back retired nurses and doctors. The federal government is providing money to expand vaccination centers and deploying mobile clinics to send vaccines to those who do not live near a vaccination center or pharmacy.
“These are special vehicles with pop-up clinics that meet folks where they live and where they don’t have the transportation to get the shots, which they’ll be launching very soon here in Houston — those mobile units — as well as Dallas, Arlington and across the state,” Biden said.
He expressed concern for certain communities who have higher rates of COVID-19 infection, stating that the government is working to send vaccines to community health centers so these groups have access.
“We’ve also started to send vaccines directly to community health centers to help the hard-to-reach folks in cities, small towns, and rural communities in Black, Latino and Native American communities that have higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths than any other group,” Biden said.
Biden also acknowledged that there is a history of abuse in the United States towards particular communities when it comes to vaccines. To address this, Biden said he plans to launch a campaign to educate people about the vaccine.
“If there’s one message that needs to cut through all of this: The vaccines are safe. I promise you,” Biden said. “They are safe and effective. Listen to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci. Listen to the scientists who developed them through extensive and rigorous review. I did.”
Overall, Biden expressed that the issues occurring with the pandemic and winter storm are not partisan issues. He also emphasized that federal and state governments must work together to recover after the winter storm, pandemic, and economic crisis.
“We are in for the long haul,” Biden said.
To view a transcript of Biden’s speech at the FEMA Mass Vaccination center, follow this link.
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