WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden directed states to make all adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by May 1 and outlined a plan to get the U.S. ‘closer to normal’ by July 4 in a prime time address to the nation on Thursday night, one year after the World Health Organization officially declared a pandemic.
“By July the Fourth there’s a good chance your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” said President Biden.
The goal of a more normal Independence Day depends on Americans doing their part by getting vaccinated when it’s their turn and continuing to follow CDC guidelines of masking and social distancing, Biden stressed.
Biden’s address also marked the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the U.S. coronavirus lockdown.
“A year ago we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked for weeks,” he said. “Photos taken in 2019 felt like they were taken in another era.”
Biden noted more people have died from COVID-19 in the last year than in WWI, WWII, the Vietnam War and 9/11 combined.
Biden touted the partnership of Merck and J&J as an example of the progress that has been made to ensure every American gets vaccinated.
“Just 14% of Americans over the age of 65 had gotten their first vaccination. Today that number is over 70%,” he said.
Biden said the United States is on track to distribute 100 million doses by day 60 of his administration.
“No other country in the world has done this,” he said.
Biden said that in order to help the American public get their vaccines the federal government will launch a website helping match people with available vaccine doses in their area.
“No more searching day and night for a vaccination appointment for you and your loved ones,” he said.
There will also be a call center created. The federal government will also assist with state and local governments to develop websites, if requested.
“I need you. I need every American to do their part,” said Biden in a plea for all Americans to get vaccinated once they are able.
In the speech, Biden condemned the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans saying they have been unfairly scapegoated.
“So many of them are on the frontlines and still they are forced to fear for their lives. It’s wrong. It’s un-American. And it must stop,” he said.
Biden said his education secretary will hold a national safe schools reopening summit to focus on best practices.
Other key points Biden made
- Biden ordered an additional 4,000 active-duty troops to help with vaccine distribution and increase vaccinators to include: dentists, paramedics, physician assistants, veterinarians, medical & health care students.
- 700 additional community health centers in underserved communities. These will support low-income, minority patients, rural and tribal communities and many will use vans to deliver vaccines.
- More than 20,000 pharmacies will participate in the federal pharmacy program. This will be double the current amount of stores participating.
- Double the number of community vaccination centers run by FEMA and the U.S. Military.
- Step-by-step guidance from CDC to return to travel, small gatherings, go to work and worship.
- Expand screening testing in schools and focus in March to get all educators vaccinated.
- New focus on expanded testing and the ability to identify variants with genomic sequencing.
Biden delivered his address in the East Room. These addresses delivered to the nation from the East Wing are typically not commonplace and usually signify a moment.
More than 528,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, and just about 10% of the country has been fully vaccinated.
Biden referenced his American Rescue Plan during his prime time address and said he will be traveling across the country along with the first lady, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the second gentleman to promote the plan.
“My fervent prayer for this country is that after all we’ve been through. Come together as one people, one nation, one America,” said Biden.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.