WASHINGTON — Joe Biden will direct states to make all American adults eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines no later than May 1 in his first prime-time address as president Thursday night, according to a senior administration official.
And if Americans “all do our part” in the coming weeks, the president plans to say, friends and families will be able to join together in small groups in time for Fourth of July celebrations.
“The next phase of our wartime effort will help get us closer to normal by July 4, Independence Day,” the official said.
Biden will give his address from the Oval Office one year after lockdowns started at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last March and hours after the president signed his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package into law.
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Biden will speak about “where we’ve been, how far we’ve come” and “the path ahead of the United States,” the official said.
The president will announce new steps to increase the number of vaccinators and places where people can get vaccinated. That includes deploying 4,000 additional military troops to support vaccination efforts, bringing the total number deployed to 6,000, and expanding the pool of vaccinators to include dentists, paramedics and veterinarians.
The federal government will begin distributing the vaccine directly to 700 additional community health centers, Biden will announce, bringing the total to 950, and double the number of pharmacies where the vaccine is available to 20,000. Biden will also announce the doubling of federally run mass vaccination centers.
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To accelerate vaccinations, the federal government will launch a new federal website to help individuals set up appointments to be vaccinated, Biden will say, according to the official.
Biden will also talk about the reopening of schools, with steps to help schools implement regular COVID-19 screening tests following passage of the American Rescue Plan.
Around one-quarter of all Americans have received a COVID-19 vaccination, including 65% of Americans 65 or older, the most vulnerable population to the virus.
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The May 1 directive comes after Biden last week said the U.S. will have enough vaccine supply for every American adult by the end of May, two months sooner than expected.
The administration official stressed Biden’s latest directive does not mean all Americans will receive a shot immediately in May, but they should be eligible.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.