President Joe Biden said on Thursday he would order US states to make all adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by May 1, because he told Americans he hoped the country would be able to achieve to some sort of normalcy by Independence Day on July 4th.
In a forceful but gloomy speech to mark the first anniversary of the pandemic lockdown, Biden said he was working to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations, hours after signing a $ 1.9 trillion stimulus bill. of dollars.
The July 4 date is a new target for the president, who has warned Americans of further suffering and death from a virus that has already killed more than 530,000 people in the United States, more than any other country in the world. Coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions have cost millions of jobs.
In an account of the dire consequences of the pandemic on the country, Biden said, “The photos and videos from 2019 look like they were taken in another era. The last vacation. The last birthday with friends. The last extended family vacation.
“Even though it was different for everyone, we all lost something,” he said, noting that the virus has faced “denials for days, then weeks, then months, which resulted in more deaths, more infections, more stress, more loneliness. “
“Finding light in the dark is a very American thing to do. In fact, it is perhaps the most American thing we do, ”he said in the White House speech offering cautious optimism to a country that, like the rest of the world, has turned. tired of the pandemic and its restrictions.
“Biden was like, ‘Let’s work together. We’re approaching the finish line, ”said Alan Fisher of Al Jazeera, Washington, DC.
Biden said he is ordering U.S. states, territories and tribes to make all adults eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by May 1. The White House has said it will have enough vaccines to immunize the population by the end of May. About 10% of Americans have so far been fully immunized.
The president also announced that thousands of additional troops would be deployed to help with the vaccination effort and said families and friends should be able to meet again in small groups by July 4, a public holiday that de many Americans celebrate with outdoor parties, hot dogs and fireworks.
The White House is also seeking to expand the pool of people capable of administering injections to include dentists, optometrists, paramedics, veterinarians and medical students.
Biden campaigned last year on a promise to tackle the pandemic more effectively than Republican President Donald Trump, and he has sought to encourage and model behaviors such as mask-wearing that Trump has avoided.
He encouraged Americans to continue their mitigation efforts – wearing masks, staying socially distant and practicing good hygiene – to stop the spread of the virus as the pace of vaccinations increases. A number of states are relaxing the restrictions.
“Not only did Biden acknowledge the grief and losses of the past year, but he also announced many different policies – from making sure Americans get the vaccine quickly enough in all the ways he tackles economic issues and health issues facing Americans ”. Elisabeth Anker, an expert on American politics at George Washington University, told Al Jazeera.
“And on top of that, he also called for a radical change in the way Americans approach government. This government does not intend to harm the Americans. He says we are the government and the government is here to solve our problems and improve our lives.
Earlier today, Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris by his side in the Oval Office, signed the US bailout bill, designed to be a financial bridge to hard-hit Americans and a revival of the ‘economy.
Last year tested us in ways you couldn’t imagine, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
We will emerge stronger. pic.twitter.com/FJUnsVoKXX
– President Biden (@POTUS) March 12, 2021
The package, which gained final approval in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, is a substantial political victory for the Democratic president less than two months after starting his administration.
“This historic legislation is aimed at rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving the people of this nation – the working people and the middle class people, the people who built the country – a fighting chance,” said Biden before signing.
The package provides $ 400 billion in direct payments of $ 1,400 to most Americans, $ 350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an extension of the child tax credit and increased funding for distribution COVID-19 vaccine. Republicans complained that the price was too high.
Biden will discuss the benefits of the pandemic relief bill while traveling to Pennsylvania next Tuesday and Atlanta on March 19.
The lockdown due to the virus began under Trump, who played down the crisis in its early stages while repeatedly asserting that the coronavirus would go away soon 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 Thursday promoting the COVID-19 vaccination and featuring all other living former U.S. presidents and their spouses.