In his first primetime address, President Joe Biden announced that he has directed states to make all adults, ages 18 and up, eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by May 1. Biden is hopeful that through this accelerate vaccine timeline, Americans will be able to gather in small groups to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, bringing back some semblance of normalcy more than a year after the pandemic began.
A year after the beginning of the nation's coronavirus outbreak, the United States has recorded over 29 million infections and nearly 528,000 total deaths, according to U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) data.
Biden delivered his speech on the one-year anniversary of the start of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions in the United States, reflecting on the loss and many sacrifices the American people have made from then until now. Biden hopes that better days lay ahead in the near future, as long as Americans work to get vaccinated and keep up with mask wearing and social distancing as the spread of the virus continues to slow.
"If we do our part, this country will be vaccinated soon, our economy will be on the mend, our kids will be back in school, and we'll have proven once again that this country can do anything," Biden stated in his evening address from the East Room of the White House.
However, Biden warned that "if we don't stay vigilant and the condition change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track." Biden pleaded with the public to not become complacent towards the virus and too keep up with public health and safety measures for a little while longer as the vaccine continues to roll out.
Despite warnings from health and federal officials, some state governors have moved to ease some coronavirus social restrictions in recent days in response to declining infection and hospitalization rates and rapidly accelerating daily vaccination rates.
So far, the governors of Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Mississippi, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming have announced plans to allow businesses to reopen without capacity restrictions and some have repealed their previous statewide mask mandates as the outbreak appears to be slowing down.
This is the type of complacey that Biden was warning against, with other U.S. health officials warning that the nation could risk a fourth wave of infections if social restrictions were lifted too early.
"We have made so much progress," Biden stated. "This is not the time to let up. Just as we are emerging from a dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer is not the time to not stick with the rules."
Moving forward, the U.S. plans to purchase another 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's
The U.S. government's initial deal with the pharmaceutical giant, which allowed for the purchase of additional doses, was to provide 100 million doses by the end of June. The U.S. had facilitated the partnership between J&J and rival drugmaker Merck
The new deal between the drugmaker and the Biden administration will give the nation more vaccine doses in the second half of the year, which will allow for more flexibility if other drugmakers like Pfizer
Biden stated that his administration in the coming weeks will issue further guidance on an individual can and cannot do once they are fully vaccinated, "to lessen the confusion, to keep people safe, and encourage more people to get vaccinated."