WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced Thursday evening that he would instruct states to qualify all adults ages 18 and older for the coronavirus vaccines by May 1.
In his first prime-time address to the nation, Biden also set a goal for Americans to gather in person with their friends and loved ones in small groups to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Making the announcements for the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, Biden reflected with fear on its devastation while hoping better days might come soon – if Americans don’t get complacent.
“If we all do our part, this country will soon be vaccinated, our economy will improve, our children will be back in school and we will prove once again that this country can do everything,” said Biden.
But “if we don’t stay vigilant and conditions change, we may have to reintroduce the restrictions to get back on track,” added Biden. “And please, we don’t want to do this again. We have made so much progress. This is not the time to let up.”
“Just as we emerged from the dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer, [now] It’s not time to disobey the rules, “he said.
Biden also said in the speech that his government will set up a website in May to help people find vaccination sites nearby, and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be issuing new health and safety guidelines for those who have been vaccinated.
The speech from the east room of the White House began shortly after 8 p.m. and lasted about 25 minutes.
United States President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on March 11, 2021, on the anniversary of the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
It came exactly a year after former President Donald Trump, speaking to the nation at the determined desk of the Oval Office, announced temporary travel bans from Europe to the United States.
Trump in that speech downplayed the threat the virus posed to the economy and to people who are not older, claiming that “for the vast majority of Americans, the risk is very, very small”.
Biden’s speech, on the other hand, emphasized that the pandemic poses a serious danger even with rapidly increasing vaccinations.
“My fellow Americans, you owe nothing less than the truth,” said Biden.
“The goal is with your loved ones on July 4th,” said Biden. “But a lot can happen. Conditions can change. And scientists have made it clear that the situation can get worse again as new variants of the virus spread.”
Biden, without naming Trump, broke the previous administration because she initially responded to the virus with “silence” and allowed it to “spread uncontrollably” for months.
“That led to more deaths, more infections, more stress and more loneliness,” Biden said before recognizing the nearly 530,000 people in the US who have died from Covid.
Biden’s speech also explicitly condemned the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans who were “attacked, molested, accused and scapegoated” during the pandemic.
The prime-time event came hours after Biden signed the $ 1.9 trillion Covid Relief Act, which he aggressively pushed onto Congress during his first 50 days in office.
The speech also came when the United States administered a record number of vaccines over the weekend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administered 2.9 million vaccines on Saturday, a record and 2.4 million on Sunday. This emerges from the agency’s latest assessment. The numbers are subject to change as more data become available to health authorities.
Biden said in his speech that by Thursday, 65% of Americans over 65 had their first vaccination and more than 70% of Americans over 75 had done the same. Those numbers were 8% and 14% when Biden took office.
Biden will be on a nationwide tour next week to announce his government’s first major legislative move. The president will leave on Tuesday for Delaware County, Pennsylvania, an electoral state that was key to Biden’s victory over Trump.