US President Joe Biden is directing all 50 states to make every adult eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination by May 1.
- This was Joe Biden’s first primetime address as President of the United States
- His speech focused on the COVID-19 recovery plan
- Earlier in the day, Mr Biden signed the $US1.9 trillion stimulus package into law
In his first prime time address as President, Mr Biden said he wanted the country to be able to gather together and celebrate on July 4 — Independence Day.
Speaking from the White House, Mr Biden announced plans to speed up vaccinations across the country, which has had more than half a million deaths.
So far, each state has its own guidelines for who can receive a vaccine now.
But as more vaccine shots become available, more people will become eligible.
“Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to have that shot immediately but it means you’ll be able to get in line beginning May 1,” Mr Biden said.
“Every adult will be eligible to get their shot.”
This was just one of the steps the President outlined during his 25-minute speech.
He also said his government was working with states to establish hundreds of vaccination hubs that are expected to administer “hundreds of thousands” of shots per day.
“We’re also working with governors and mayors in red states and blue states to set up and support nearly 600 federally supported vaccination centres that administers hundreds of thousands of shots per day,” he said.
“You can drive up to a stadium or a large parking lot, get your shot, never leave your car and drive home in less than an hour.”
The speech was on the one-year anniversary since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization.
During the speech, Mr Biden offered condolences and optimism for the future.
“[It’s been] a year filled with the loss of life, and the loss of living for all of us,” he said.
“Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do.”
Mr Biden said he hoped Americans would continue to work together in fighting the virus.
He said if the country worked together, there was a chance groups would be allowed to gather on July 4, one of the biggest public holidays of the year.
“If you do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July 4 there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together,” he said.
“After this long, hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.”
The address comes just hours after the President signed a $US1.9 trillion ($2.5 trillion) stimulus package into law.
The American Rescue Plan cleared its final hurdle in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (local time).
Biden pleads for unity in the face of a common enemy
While the tone of the speech was positive, the President did highlight the division in America, which has widened during the pandemic.
Wearing of face masks has been a political issue at times in the country, which Mr Biden said states “pitted against one another”.
“Too often we’ve turned against one another. A mask, the easiest thing to do to save lives, sometimes it divides us,” he said.
Racist attacks against Asian-Americans was also mentioned by the President.
He said many lived in fear as they have been a scapegoat of frustration for many.
“At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they’re on the frontlines of this pandemic trying to save lives and still, still, they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America,” Mr Biden said.
“It’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.”
While celebrating with loved ones on July 4 was a goal, Mr Biden said there was no guarantee.
During his speech, he said the virus was still dangerous and scientists were warning about the spread of new variants.
“Beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity … unity is what we do together as fellow Americans,” he said.
“Because if we don’t stay vigilant and the conditions change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track.
“Please, we don’t want to do that again.”