In his first prime time address to the nation, commemorating the anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown order, President Joe Biden made news with two major announcements about his administration’s vaccine roll-out: a pledge to make all adult Americans eligible for the vaccine by May 1 and the launch of a national website to facilitate those vaccinations.
“This is one of the most complex operations we’ve undertaken as a nation in a long time,” Biden said. “That’s why I’m using every power I have as president of the United States to put us on a war footing to get the job done.”
WHAT’S THE IMPACT?
The White House laid out the plans in more detail in a fact sheet, stating that the President will direct states, Tribes, and territories to lift eligibility restrictions by May 1, based on the White House response team’s confidence in both the supply of the vaccine and the progress of prioritized vaccinations.
“All adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1,” Biden said. “That’s much earlier than expected. Now let me be clear, that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately, but it means you’ll be able to get in line beginning May 1.”
In order to accomplish this goal, Biden said, the United States will need to keep up a pace of more than 2 million shots per day.
The website will also be launched by May 1st.
“At the time when every adult is eligible in May we will launch, with our partners, new tools to make it easier for you to find the vaccine and where to get the shot, including a new website that will help you find a place to get vaccinated and the one nearest you,” Biden said. “No more searching day and night for an appointment for you and your loved ones.”
In its fact sheet, the White House also promised to create an 800 number which would serve the same purpose for those without access to the Internet, and to deploy technology teams to help support states’ websites.
The Biden administration also described a number of other ways they will work to increase vaccine availability. They have pledged to deliver doses of the vaccine directly to 700 community health centers in addition to the 250 that have already received it, to double the number of pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy program from 10,000 to 20,000, and to double the number of federally-run mass vaccination centers from 600 to 1,200.
Biden also announced the deployment of more than 4,000 active duty troops to support vaccination efforts and plans to make a wide range of medical professionals, including dentists and veterinarians, eligible to volunteer administering vaccine shots.
Finally, the president mentioned ongoing efforts to make at-home testing available and a continued focus on vulnerable and underserved communities, and promised clear guidance going forward from the CDC.
THE LARGER TREND
The speech comes the same day Biden signed the unprecedented $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, a stimulus package that strengthens the Affordable Care Act in addition to delivering direct aid to American families.
Today’s announcements build on the National COVID-19 Response Strategy released by the Biden Administration on January 21st.
In the speech, Biden maintained a tone of hope that the country is nearing the light at the end of the tunnel, expressing his hope that families will be able to reunite outside at Fourth of July barbecues. But he also cautioned Americans to continue following guidelines and the instructions of health authorities, even if that means sometimes taking steps back with regards to repoenings.
ON THE RECORD
“You know what we need to do to beat this virus,” Biden said. “Tell the truth. Follow the science. Work together. Put trust and faith in our government to fulfill it’s most important function: protecting the American people.”