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Watch President Biden's First Major Address as Nation Marks COVID-19 Shutdown Anniversary

03-10-2021
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President Joe Biden speaking from the White House on Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden will make his first prime time address to the nation Thursday night, one year to the day after the nationwide COVID-19 shutdown.

Biden's address is scheduled for 8:00 pm Eastern time. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden will discuss the many sacrifices the American people have made over the last year and the grave losses communities and families across the country have suffered. 

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"The President will look forward, highlighting the role of Americans, that Americans will play in beating the virus and moving the country toward getting back to normal," she said. 

Biden's address will be his first major speech since he was inaugurated on Jan. 20. Thursday's date, March 11, will mark exactly one year to the day when the World Health Organization officially declared that the global coronavirus crisis was a "pandemic."

On that day last year, the number of cases of coronavirus in the US passed 1,000. New Rochelle, New York was declared America's first containment zone. 

Now one year later, progress in the battle to fight the deadly virus has gained traction with the addition of three FDA-approved vaccines, which some have called "a medical miracle."  The CDC also announced this week that people who've received both shots can now visit with each other in their homes, without masks or social distancing. The CDC guidance says they can also get together with those who are considered low-risk, like vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children.

In another positive development, scientists are comparing a COVID-19 pill to the possible "holy grail" of the pandemic. 

The drug Molnupiravir, works like Tamiflu for people with the flu. It's designed to stop the virus from replicating. However, experts say more research is needed since the drug has only been tested on about 200 people.

Biden's Lack of Public Engagement

As CBN News has reported, Biden has had little public engagement since becoming president. He has held no press conferences, delivered no speeches from the Oval Office, and has not given a State of the Union address to the nation.  

He's the first president in four decades not to have held a formal question and answer session during the first months of his presidency. By this point, Donald Trump and George H.W. Bush had each held five press conferences. Bill Clinton had held four.

"The president has lost some opportunity, I think, to speak to the country from the bully pulpit. The volume has been turned so low in the Biden White House that they need to worry about whether anyone is listening," said Frank Sesno, former head of George Washington University's school of media. "But he's not great in these news conferences. He rambles. His strongest communication is not extemporaneous."

This extreme public relations control by the administration has led some to question Biden's current mental state. On Monday, during prepared remarks, he appeared to forget the name of his Defense secretary and of the Pentagon. 

This gaffe followed the President's brief Saturday afternoon on-camera appearance to celebrate the Senate passage of the COVID-19 relief bill.  However, Biden's celebration was a little premature since the Senate's version of the bill still has to be approved by the House before it goes to his desk for his signature.

In his short speech, Biden tried to describe the bill as bipartisan, but no Republican in the House or the Senate voted for it. 

Meanwhile, members of the media have noticed their lack of access to the President, and have spoken out about it. 

"Press conferences are critical to informing the American people and holding an administration accountable to the public," said Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller, president of the White House Correspondents' Association. "As it has with prior presidents, the WHCA continues to call on President Biden to hold formal press conferences with regularity."

As CBN News reported on Monday, Psaki announced the President would hold a formal press conference before the end of the month. 

"I would say that his focus is on getting recovery and relief to the American people and he looks forward to continuing to engage with all of you and to other members of the media who aren't here today," she said. "And we'll look forward to letting you know, as soon as that press conference is set."

Psaki said Biden would be delivering a joint session speech to Congress, but gave no date or timeline when asked about it on Friday. 

"When it became clear, which it should have been from the beginning, that the American Rescue Plan would take until about, hopefully, about mid-March to get passed and signed into law, we made a decision internally that we weren't going to have the president propose his forward-looking agenda beyond that," she said, noting that parts of Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda are "still being determined" and that there are still discussions ongoing "internally."

The press secretary said Biden would not give his address "until after that bill is signed, until after those checks are going out to Americans, until after that vaccine money is going out, and after the money is going out to schools."

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