The United States doesn’t currently have the presidential leadership it needs during this crisis. I wrote this speech to remind everyone what a competent president might say to offer comfort, perspective, and hope during these times.
The United States and the world have endured difficult times throughout our history. We’re joined together today for yet another one of those times.
Amid this tragic event, new heroes have been born: our garbage collectors, grocery store clerks, truckers and delivery drivers, mail people, factory workers, plant-based food farmers, nurses and doctors, and other essential workers. They’ve reminded us that every job has the power to contribute to the greater good. A few days ago, in one of the most inspiring moments in modern history, the nation paused in unison to clap for these workers from the isolation of their homes. Our appreciation for their tireless work will remain with us long after we defeat this virus.
I also want to give credit to every Governor. You’ve shown courage and inspiration in a time when the people of your state needed it most. Count on my administration and me to put politics aside–and to treat everyone in our country as if there are no political parties–and to help provide you the equipment and services you need to whatever degree we can. If I let you down as your president, please let me know because it’s my goal to exceed your expectations.
There will be so many lessons we take away from this experience, many of which we may not yet know. I hope this crisis helps people to understand the importance of shifting our food choices to more plant-based food, as SARS, swine flu, Mad Cow Disease, MERS, Ebola, and COVID-19 are all suspected of having originated from animals. In addition to the negative impact on climate, this event reminds us that eating animals poses a risk to our survival.
Also, for the first time, many Americans are experiencing what it feels like to worry about not having access to food or supplies and healthcare when they’re sick or dying. When this crisis ends, I hope that Americans–many of whom live among such abundance–show more compassion for immigrants fleeing hardship. Many immigrants regularly deal with food and healthcare scarcity and the fear of a deadly disease. Many immigrants also don’t have access to clean drinking water and experience unthinkable physical violence. I hope that Americans never forget this feeling because it’s how so many people in other countries feel and live their entire lives. Sadly, many Americans also live this way. I hope COVID-19 creates a new era of empathy, understanding, and kindness for those most in need. If the opportunity presents itself to help the less fortunate now, I hope you’ll seize it.
I want to thank our free press for doing their best to provide information to the public about the risks, solutions, and the way forward. Dissenting opinions abound. I welcome their criticism because I’m sure I’ve made mistakes. I take the information I receive from experts in the field and try to make every decision based on what I believe is best for our people. Given how much we still don’t know, it’s an inexact science. I try to balance every factor–the economy and your health chief among them. I hope the media will continue to balance sharing vital information while trying not to frighten people unnecessarily. I welcome your questions, even when I may disagree with them because I realize you’re often searching for answers to questions that interest the American people. I hope you’ll afford me the benefit of the doubt and check with my administration and me to ensure the information you share is accurate. In return, I’ll do my best to be transparent and available to answer your questions. I hope you’ll continue to fact check me, so we provide the American people with information they can trust.
We encourage you to visit the CDC website to learn more about this coronavirus. We’re best positioned when we’re informed. While we’re still determining exactly how it spreads, much is clear about steps we can take to prevent catching this virus and giving it to others. In the days ahead, we’ll continue to read tragic news about people not surviving this virus. It’s natural to feel scared and sad, especially when you or people you know are affected, but we also hope you find some comfort knowing this virus will end.
To ensure our safety, please stay home and seek medical care if necessary. We realize the strain this situation puts on relationships and employment, and the adjustment it requires from our normal routines. But we have no choice. While we’re hopeful this situation will end sooner than later, it would be irresponsible for us to set a deadline when we can return to normal. We need to assess that option based on feedback from the experts in the field–the scientists and doctors on the frontlines, and the leadership at our government agencies like the NIH. We’re confident that our scientists, doctors, business leaders, essential workers, and innovators will help lead us through this crisis–from the biotech companies working on a cure and our medical professionals saving lives to the grocery store clerks stocking shelves with food and our delivery drivers bringing it to our doors.
Our highest priority is the health of the American people. We understand and share your frustration about the economic impact of this virus. We can only imagine the disappointment, fear, and financial hardship it presents. We’ll do everything we can to help you maintain and regain your footing. But none of that will be possible unless we protect your health, so our primary focus is on ensuring we follow the CDC’s guidance on avoiding community spread by not leaving our homes unless absolutely necessary. This problem is real–and we need your help to defeat it. Our hospitals are already flooded, they’re short on equipment, and our medical personnel are exhausted. Let’s do everything we can to make their jobs easier.
In the months ahead, we’re going to experience increased unemployment and many businesses may not survive. I can imagine how difficult it must be for those of you who valued your job or for whom starting your company was a dream come true. While some jobs and companies may close, the American dream will live on. Our way of life–although perhaps different in some ways–will resume. Hopefully, our society will be better and stronger as a result of this virus. Our history is filled with heartache and resilience. It’s the latter that defines us–our ability to rebound from the most difficult circumstances and reach new heights. I do not doubt that with your spirit and ingenuity, this time will be no different.
There is so much that is right in our country. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us. We hear stories of people giving up what they have for others and risking their lives to save people they don’t know. Amid tragedy, America is often at its best. We may be far apart, but let’s stick together. We may not see each other, but we’re in this together. The sick and dying may be alone, but we’re with them. One day this virus will end, and this country will rise again as it always has. And we’ll take with us a deeper appreciation for our freedom, our jobs, and our health. And maybe the world will be a more humane place for all of its inhabitants–every human and animal included. Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Let that be our goal.