Biden Interview: Return to In-Person School, NFL Stadium Vaccinations

President Joe Biden appeared in an interview with CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell, portions of which aired before the Super Bowl, where he discussed the challenges his administration faces amid the pandemic. Topics ranged from how to safely return to in-person school to how he will ramp up vaccinations and his approach to Iran.

“I think it’s time for schools to reopen safely. Safely,” Biden said, adding that children have been “going through a lot,” but he emphasized that districts will need to make modifications first. “You have to have fewer people in the classroom. You have to have ventilation systems that have been reworked. Our CDC commissioner is going to be coming out with science-based judgment, within I think as early as Wednesday as to lay out what the minimum requirements are.”

O’Donnell asked Biden about how the Trump administration handled the pandemic, and Biden said the situation was “even more dire than we thought” before he was inaugurated.

“We thought they had indicated there was a lot more vaccine available,” Biden said. “And didn’t turn out to be the case. So that’s why we’ve ramped up every way we can.”

The president then talked about the NFL’s offer to let the government use its football stadiums as mass vaccination sites. When asked whether he would take the league up on the offer, Biden said yes. “Absolutely we will,” he said. “And, I mean, let me put it this way—I tell my team they’re available and I believe we’ll use them. Look, it was one thing if we had enough vaccine, which we didn’t. So we’re pushing as hard as we can to get more vaccine manufactured.”

Biden then said that it will be “very difficult” for the United States to administer enough vaccinations—75 percent of the population—to reach herd immunity any earlier than late summer.

When the conversation turned to foreign relations, O’Donnell asked the president about Iran and whether he will repeal economic sanctions currently in place. The Obama administration had negotiated a deal with Iran in 2015 to limit in return for easing the sanctions, but Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018, and in response, Iran has violated the terms of the agreement, and Trump reimposed sanctions in 2019.

“Will the U.S. lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the negotiating table?” she asked.

Biden said he would not lift sanctions before entering negotiations and nodded when O’Donnell followed-up with, “They have to stop enriching uranium first?”

Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden also appeared in a brief video before the Super Bowl where they thanked “all the front line health care heroes.”

“You put yourself at risk to keep us safe,” Dr. Biden said. “You and your families carried us through this year with courage, compassion and kindness. We couldn’t have made it without you.”

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