President says he expects life to be closer to normal by July 4 Independence Day holiday
says he expects life to be closer to normal by July 4 Independence Day holiday
Biden wants more people to be eligible for the vaccine
Joe Biden said on Thursday he would direct US states to make all adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by May 1 and urged Americans in a televised address to stay vigilant against the virus, hours after he signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill into law. In a forceful and somber speech from the White House on the first anniversary of the pandemic lockdown, President Biden said he was working to speed vaccinations to create a greater sense of normalcy in the country by the July 4 Independence Day holiday. That date is a new goal for the president, who has warned Americans that further pain and death were still to come from the virus that has killed more than 530,000 people in the United States, the most of any country. Coronavirus-related lockdowns and restrictions have cost millions of jobs. In a recounting of the grim toll the pandemic has taken on the nation, President Biden said: "Photos and videos from 2019 feel like they were taken in another era. The last vacation. The last birthday with friends. The last holiday with extended family. "While it was different for everyone, we all lost something," he said, noting that the virus was met with "denials for days, then weeks, then months, that led to more deaths, more infections, more stress, more loneliness".
The president also said more US troops would help in the vaccination effort, adding that families and friends should be able to gather again in small groups by July 4, a holiday that many Americans celebrate with outdoor parties, hot dogs, and fireworks. The White House is also seeking to expand the pool of people able to administer shots to include dentists, optometrists, paramedics, veterinarians, and medical students. President Biden campaigned last year on a promise that he would tackle the pandemic more effectively than President Donald Trump, and he has sought to encourage and model behaviour, such as mask-wearing, that Mr Trump eschewed. He encouraged Americans to keep up mitigation efforts – wearing masks, keeping socially distant, and practicing good hygiene – to stop the spread of the virus as the pace of vaccinations increases. A number of states have been loosening restrictions. "We faced and overcame one of the toughest and darkest periods in this nation's history, the darkest we've ever known," President Biden said, adding: "I promise you will come out stronger." Earlier in the day, president Biden signed the American Rescue Plan law, designed to be a financial bridge to hard-hit Americans and a boost to the economy. The package is a major political victory for the Democratic president less than two months into his administration. President Biden and top members of his administration will embark on a victory lap in coming weeks to laud and explain the legislation, which got final approval from the House of Representatives on Wednesday. "This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation - working people and middle-class folks, the people who built the country - a fighting chance," president Biden said before the signing. The package provides $400 billion for $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit, and increased funding for Covid-19 vaccine distribution. The bill passed without a single vote from Republicans, who complained the price tag was too steep. President Biden will discuss the benefits of the pandemic relief bill during trips to Pennsylvania next Tuesday and Atlanta on March 19. The lockdown from the virus began under Mr. Trump, who played down the crisis in its early stages while repeatedly predicting the virus would soon disappear even as his administration pushed to speed up vaccine development.
The former president and his wife, Melania Trump, did not appear in a public service announcement released on Thursday encouraging Covid-19 vaccinations and featuring all of the other living former US presidents and their spouses.