President Joe Biden spoke alongside Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday to celebrate the state dropping all coronavirus social distancing and capacity restrictions — despite previously calling on the governor to resign during a 2019 blackface scandal.
“I want to thank you for all you’re doing to win the fight against COVID,” Biden told Northam during an event at a rock-climbing center in Alexandria, 15 miles south of the White House. “You’re one of the best governors in the country at taking this on, and you did it from the beginning.”
“Gov, I really mean this, not being political,” Biden added later in his speech. “You’ve done one hell of a job, and it matters.”
His comments come just over two years after saying Northam had “lost all moral authority and should resign immediately.”
The president also continued his recent calls for Americans over the age of 12 to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Four months after I took office, we are further along in this fight than anyone thought was possible,” he told the gathered crowd at Sportrock Climbing Center. “We’ve gone from 184 cases per day nationwide to fewer than 22 cases, 22,000 cases per day.”
“We’re not done yet,” the president continued. “We have to reach those who were not vaccinated and make it as easy as possible for them to get protected.”
Before Biden took the podium, Northam also urged Americans to meet the president’s goal of 70% of U.S. adults receiving at least one coronavirus vaccine dose by July 4.
Northam added that “having a partner in the White House makes a huge, huge difference” and that Biden’s vaccination plan has helped Virginia become the state with the ninth-lowest infection rate in the nation.