Biden to Direct States to Make All U.S. Adults Eligible for COVID Vaccine by May 1

Biden East Room of White House March 11, 2021
President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during a prime-time address from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington. (Photo: Andrew Harnik | AP)

By Dan McCaleb, The Center Square

President Joe Biden said Thursday night that he is directing U.S. states to open COVID-19 vaccinations to all American adults by May 1 in an effort to more quickly reopen the country and prop up the staggering U.S. economy.

“To do this we’re going to go from a million shots a day … to 2 million shots a day,” he said.

In most U.S. states currently, only older Americans, front-line workers and those with pre-existing conditions are eligible, though getting scheduled for a first dose has been problematic in many states even for the most at-risk.

In the first prime-time address of his presidency after 50 days in office, and the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the novel coronavirus a pandemic, Biden said the $1.9 billion relief package he signed earlier Thursday will help provide the resources states need to meet his deadline, and also to reopen schools across the country.

“The only way to get our country back, to get the economy back on track, is to beat this virus,” he said.

“With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, and I thank again the House and Senate for passing it, and my announcement last month of a plan to vaccinate teachers and school staff, including bus drivers, we can accelerate the massive nationwide effort to reopen our schools safely and meet my goal that I stated at the same time of 100 million shots of opening a majority of K through 8 schools in my first 100 days in office,” Biden said. “This is going to be the No. 1 priority of my new secretary of education, Miguel Cardona.”

Soon, Biden said, the U.S. will have enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines to vaccinate all adults in the country by the end of May.

He said more people are being recruited to administer the shots, more places are being deployed where they can be received, and more doses are being purchased from drug companies.

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By July 4, he said, “there is a good chance” families will be able to get together to celebrate the holiday, though not in large groups.

“That will make this independence truly special,” he said. “But to get there, we can’t let our guard down,” threatening to add more restrictions on Americans if the country slides back in the number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

More than 527,000 Americans have died with the virus to date, something Biden noted was more than in World War I, World War II, Vietnam and Sept. 11, 2001, combined.

Without directly naming his predecessor, Biden also criticized former President Donald Trump for what he claims was Trump downplaying the virus in the early days and months of the pandemic.

“We know what we need to do to beat this virus. Tell the truth. Trust the scientists,” he said.

Biden also touted the American Rescue Plan Act, which he signed earlier Thursday, calling it “an historic piece of legislation.”

The U.S. House gave final passage to the relief bill on Wednesday in a narrow, mostly party-line, 220-211, vote. The Senate passed the bill on Saturday following hours of debate.

Republicans and fiscal hawks argue the spending bill includes billions of dollars for initiatives unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic or economic recovery.

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Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement Wednesday that the bill “does more to fulfill their progressive wish list than to ease the burdens facing small businesses and families as a result of COVID-19.”

“With less than 10% of the nearly $2 trillion package dedicated to directly combatting the virus and only one percent for vaccines, this enormous package makes a mockery of the crisis our country is facing,” she said.

The bill includes $350 billion in what Republicans called a bailout for state and local governments, $160 billion for vaccines and testing, $170 billion for schools and universities, and an extension of $300-per-week unemployment benefits.

The $1,400 stimulus checks included in the legislation are expected to reach an estimated 85% of Americans and cost $410 billion, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The latest round of stimulus checks were revised down from $2,000 checks, and a $15 federal minimum wage hike proposal was scratched from the plan after pushback from key Democrats.

The local take from County 17

County 17 is reporting that as of Friday, Wyoming has received 140,780 first vaccine doses, including 67,080 Pfizer, 700 Moderna, and 6,000 Janssen, of which 114,912 have been administered. The state has additionally received 95,075 second doses, including 47, 775 Pfizer and 47,300 Moderna, with 71,831 of those currently administered, per the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

Cambell County is currently vaccinating residents who fall in the Phase 1b and Phase 1c categorty, which generally include individuals who are age 65 and up, some frontline essential workers, and individuals with certain medical conditions, individuals experiencing homelessness, residents in congregate care or living settings, critical infrastructure workers, people 50-64 and those with certain medical conditions, and people living in dormitories.

For more information or to register for a vaccine, see Campbell County Public Health.

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Today, Friday, March 15, there will be a drive-in clinic at the Central Pavilion at Cam-Plex from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents are asked to bring their COVID 19 vaccination card with them to the clinic.

Graphic courtesy WDH.
Graphic courtesy WDH.

 

The Center Square is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on state- and local-level government and economic reporting.