Biden was responding to a question shouted at the end of prepared remarks he delivered Friday at Brookland Middle School in Washington, D.C., where he called on governors to require all teachers and staff in their states to be vaccinated.
Asked if he had any message for opponents of his plan, which includes requiring all businesses with 100 or more employees to test unvaccinated workers at least once a week, Biden welcomed them to challenge it in court.
“Have at it,” he said, before adopting a more reflective tone.
“I’m so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities,” he said. “We’re playing for real here. This isn’t a game.”
Biden noted that his six-part plan to combat COVID-19 and keep the economic recovery going rests on science and data, and said it should unite people from different political ideologies in a common cause.
The president also lamented the harmful partisan rancor that has come to surround the public health crisis.
“One of the lessons I hope our students can unlearn is that politics doesn’t have to be this way,” Biden said. “Politics doesn’t have to be this way. They’re growing up in an environment where they see it’s like a war. Like a bitter feud. If a Democrat says ‘left,’ they say ‘right.’”
“It’s not who we are as a nation,” he went on. “And it’s not how we beat every other crisis in our nation’s history.”