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If Your Time is short

  • Biden in March said that if Americans followed COVID-19 safety guidelines, there was a “good chance” they could gather in “small groups” to celebrate the Fourth of July.

  • In April, he urged Americans to wear masks and get vaccinated. He alluded to his March remarks about July Fourth gatherings, but did not say anything more about them.

  • Biden has not said that he might cancel Fourth of July gatherings.

On March 11, President Joe Biden said that if Americans followed COVID-19 safety guidelines, there was a “good chance” they could gather in “small groups” to celebrate the Fourth of July.

On April 21, Biden hailed the progress of vaccinations and again looked ahead to Independence Day — but his remarks were depicted by some as a heavy-handed warning rather than a ray of hope.

“Joe Biden says Americans can only celebrate the 4th of July if he says so,” read a Facebook post by conservative commentator Benny Johnson. “Americans respond!”

The post included a four-minute video that begins with Johnson saying: “Joe Biden says you can’t celebrate the Fourth of July unless you’ve been a good little boy and girl, unless you’ve gotten your Fauci-ouchie, your vaccine, and gee whiz, he might let you have a small, teeny little gathering in your backyard — if you follow his directions. What a scumbag tyrant.”

Later in the video, a 20-second clip is shown of Biden saying: “To celebrate our independence from this virus on July Fourth, with family and friends in small groups, we still have more to do in the months of May and June. We all need to mask up until the number of cases goes down, until everyone has a chance to get their shot.”

Johnson’s post and others like it were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Biden has not said that he might cancel or ban Fourth of July celebrations.

Initial remarks in March, more in April

The clip is taken from remarks Biden made April 21 about COVID-19. But he first referenced the Fourth of July on March 11, in a prime-time address.

In that speech, Biden announced he was directing all states to make all adults eligible for a vaccine by May 1 and was accelerating efforts to reopen schools. He also implored Americans to get vaccinated. Then he referenced Independence Day, saying:

“If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the Fourth, there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day. That doesn’t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together.”

In his April 21 remarks, Biden announced that his goal of administering 200 million COVID-19 shots during his first 100 days in office had been met. He closed his remarks referring to the Fourth of July, saying:

“Back on March 11th, I outlined a vision of what America could look like by the Fourth of July — an America that was much closer to normal life that we left behind more than a year ago. We remain on track for that goal.

“In the weeks since then, more than 120 million shots have been given since I announced the July Fourth proposal.  More of our kids are back in school. And after a long and painful year, more grandparents are able to hug their grandkids again. It’s great progress.

“But if we let up now and stop being vigilant, this virus will erase the progress we’ve already achieved, the sacrifices we’ve made, the lives that have been put on hold, the loved ones who’ve been taken from us, the time we’re never going to get back.

“To celebrate our independence from this virus on July Fourth, with family and friends in small groups, we still have more to do in the months of May and June. We all need to mask up until the number of cases goes down, until everyone has a chance to get their shot.

“To Americans 16 years and older, it’s your turn now. Now.  So, go get your vaccine before the end of May. We can do this. And we’ll do this as long as we don’t let up.”

On April 27, the day after Johnson’s post, Biden said: “Next week, I’ll be laying out the path ahead to continue our fight against COVID-19 to get us to July Fourth. …While we still have a long way to go in this fight and a lot of work to do in May and June to get us to July Fourth, we’ve made stunning progress because of all of you, the American people. Cases and deaths are down — down dramatically from where they were when I took office on January 20th, and continuing to fall.”

Our ruling

A Facebook post claimed: “Joe Biden says Americans can only celebrate the Fourth of July if he says so.”

Biden in March said that if Americans followed COVID-19 safety guidelines, there was a “good chance” they could gather in “small groups” to celebrate the Fourth of July. In April, urging Americans to wear masks and get vaccinated, he alluded to his March remarks about July Fourth gatherings, but did not say anything more about them. He has not said that he might ban or cancel Fourth of July celebrations or gatherings.

We rate the statement False.

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