In his first prime-time speech in the country since taking office, the president called on states to make all American adults eligible for vaccinations by May 1, and he said his administration would meet his goal of 100 million vaccines during his first 100 days in office. in his 60th day as president.
“We are not only going to achieve this goal, we are going to beat it,” he said in remarks on the anniversary of the day the World Health Organization declared a pandemic there. is one year old.
“I need you to get your shot when it’s your turn and you can find an opportunity,” Biden said.
He previously said the administration expects to have enough vaccines by the end of May to vaccinate all U.S. adults, although officials have warned that the administration of the vaccines will take longer.
Some states may already be on track to opening up injection eligibility to all adults within weeks, and one – Alaska – has already done so.
If the nation is successful in meeting its vaccination goals, it will be possible for Americans to come together in small groups to celebrate July 4, Biden said.
“The only way to get our lives back, to get our economy back on track, is to beat the virus,” Biden said.
If Americans can come together on Independence Day, he said, “it will make this Independence Day something really special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we let’s start to mark our independence from this virus “.
Biden’s speech was intended in part to commemorate the dark year the United States endured, with more than half a million people dying from Covid-19. Around the same time as the WHO statement, Americans began adopting social distancing practices that would lead to the temporary collapse of the economy, putting millions of people out of work.
“We’ve all lost something. A collective suffering, a collective sacrifice. A year filled with loss of life and loss of life for all of us, ”Biden said.
But the president also sought to chart a way out of the pandemic for the country, as well as welcoming his signing earlier Thursday of a $ 1.9 trillion relief measure that was his top priority for taking office.
“Finding the light in the dark is a very American thing to do. In fact, it is perhaps the most American thing we do,” he said.
The Republican National Committee criticized Biden for performing a victory lap for “a $ 1.9 trillion boondoggle,” saying little money would go to fighting the pandemic.
Biden’s speech, the RNC said in a statement, is “an important reminder that a year ago today, President Trump announced an aggressive and comprehensive effort to combat the virus which ultimately resulted in the creation of the fastest vaccine in modern history thanks to Operation Warp Speed. . “
Biden’s predecessor addressed the nation from the Oval Office on March 11, 2020, when he announced a travel ban from Europe in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus in the United States. But throughout the year, he repeatedly downplayed the severity of the pandemic.
Biden brushed off Trump early in his remarks, saying that in the United States the virus was initially “silenced and spread unchecked.”
“Denials for days, weeks, then months,” he said. “It has led to more deaths, more infections, more stress and more loneliness.”
In addition to setting immunization targets for May 1 and July 4, Biden announced that his administration will begin distributing vaccines to 700 other community health centers, to reach underprivileged communities, and that it will double the number of pharmacies. retailers receiving vaccines directly from the federal government. government, officials said.
U.S. equity futures held onto their earlier gains in overnight trading as Biden spoke, continuing a Wall Street rally that saw the Standard & Poor’s 500 index hit another record high.
In other new initiatives, Biden has announced that the federal government will open websites by May 1 that will help Americans locate available vaccines, duplicating services that some states and private groups have already made available.
He also announced the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s upcoming directions for those vaccinated, including recommendations on travel, social gatherings, work, and religious worship. The directive “will clarify the benefits of vaccination to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated,” according to a backgrounder released by the White House.
Biden announced more federal support for reopening schools. The White House said this would include efforts to expand screening of students for coronavirus infection and to encourage teachers and other school staff to get vaccinated.
The administration will enhance efforts to identify variant strains of the coronavirus circulating in the United States using genomic testing, the White House said.
The president said the new stimulus bill was “historic legislation” that would fund new measures his administration is taking to curb the pandemic. Eligible Americans can expect to receive government payments of up to $ 1,400 as early as this weekend, the White House press secretary said.
“If he fails somewhere, I admit he failed,” he said. “But it won’t.”
No Congressional Republican voted for the bill, and none of them will attend a signing ceremony at the White House on Friday.
Thursday is the 50th day of Biden’s presidency. Since his inauguration, vaccination rates in the United States have fallen from around 900,000 per day to an average of 2.2 million on Thursday, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracking.
As for July 4th, Topol said: “I think this will be the time to celebrate.”
As of Monday, Biden, vice president
Friday’s ceremony and the marketing campaign that followed underscore the stakes for Biden and the Democratic Party, which must show Americans that they are helping the nation recover from public health and economic disasters they blamed on a large scale. party to the Trump administration.
(Updates with Eric Topol’s remarks, starting at paragraph 29.)
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