Biden on anti-mask laws: “It isn’t about politics – it is about defending our kids”


President Joe Biden hit anti-masking protesters Thursday for politicizing the Covid-19 pandemic and said he was particularly concerned about scenes from a school council meeting in Tennessee earlier this week.

While addressing his plan to cut prescription drug costs, Biden said there are people in America who are “trying to implement a public safety measure, that is, children who wear masks in school to keep them safe, to turn into a political dispute ”.

“This is not about politics. It’s about protecting our children, “said Biden on Thursday afternoon at the beginning of his remarks in the White House.

The president pointed out a recent protest in Williamson County, Tennessee, where anti-mask activists at a school committee meeting harassed public health officials who testified for masking mandates in schools to prevent the spread of Covid-19 .

With the highly contagious Delta variant, Covid-19 cases and hospital stays among children are increasing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends students from kindergarten through 12th grade wear masks to school with teachers and visitors, while the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends masks in schools for anyone over two years of age.

“You know, our healthcare workers are heroes. They were the heroes when there was no vaccine. Many of them gave their lives to save others. And with a vaccine, they’re heroes again, ”said Biden. “They do their best to take care of the people who refuse to be vaccinated, and unvaccinated people are hospitalized and die because they haven’t been vaccinated.”

The president continued to applaud “the mayors, school principals, educators, local leaders who oppose the governors and politicize masks and protection for our children,” adding, “Thank God we have heroes like you, and I stand with you “All of you, and America should too.”

Previously, Biden and members of his administration targeted the governors of Florida and Texas for getting in the way of mask and vaccine requirements, highlighting the exceptional number of Covid cases and hospitalizations in their states. Early Thursday, the White House’s Covid-19 team confirmed it had increased its monoclonal antibody treatment shipments to Florida eight-fold over the past month. They have also sent additional ventilators to the state.

As part of his planned remarks, Biden argued for his plan to lower prescription drug prices by expanding his recent directives and efforts in his proposals to Congress on the Build Back Better agenda.

The president said he did not want to belittle the “groundbreaking” work of pharmaceutical companies like the development of the Covid-19 vaccine, but added that “we can distinguish between developing these breakthroughs and increasing the price of a number of vaccines”. Medicines for a number of everyday illnesses and conditions. ”

He pointed to the fact that the US pays “the highest cost of prescription drugs in any developed nation in the world,” citing the skyrocketing prices for insulin and drugs used to treat multiple sclerosis, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

He also remembered having his siblings literally covering the cost of his mother’s medication. ”

Biden cited a far-reaching arrangement he signed last month that aims to encourage competition in the US economy.

The order continues a historic push by the Trump administration to allow states to import prescription drugs from Canada, where government regulation keeps drug costs down. It instructs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to work with states to safely import drugs that Biden supported during his presidential campaign.

The executive order directs the Ministry of Health to come up with a plan to combat high prescription drug prices and price gouging within 45 days. It also goes through the shipping costs for businesses and the cost of prescription drugs for Americans.

He noted that new prescription drugs can be patented and marketed without competition in the US for 12 years, but added that “unfortunately it often takes a long time, years and years for” generic versions of these drugs to become available Brought to the US market for 12 years.

“These things alone will be of great help, but to really solve the problem we need Congress to act. That’s what my Build Back Better plan will do, ”said the president.

Part of his proposals to Congress would give Medicare “the power to negotiate lower drug prices” and allow Medicare prices to be available to private insurance companies.

He also pointed to proposals to expand Medicare coverage to dental, visual and hearing aids, as well as the meeting of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

“I don’t criticize companies that are unwilling to spend billions of dollars on certain research projects. I get it. But if it doesn’t, we should make sure the Americans are covered, ”said the president.

CNN’s Rebekah Riess, Kate Sullivan, Brian Fung, Betsy Klein and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.

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