President Joe Biden said that 90% of the U.S. will be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine within three weeks, as he also warned of rising cases.
“This war is far from won,” he said.
Vaccine eligibility does not necessarily mean accessibility, as Biden also outlined plans to boost the number of sites where Americans can receive the doses. He said that 33 million doses of vaccine would be available this week. He outlined a plan to greatly boost vaccine sites by April 19, when 90% would be within five miles of a vaccination site. The number of pharmacies offering vaccines will more than double, from 17,000 to 40,000, he said, while more federally run vaccination sites will be added.
He urged governors and mayors to restore mask mandates. Six states have lifted them: Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.
“Mask up. It’s a patriotic duty,” Biden said. “It’s the only way we get back to normal.”
Biden’s remarks came as there are increasing concerns over an uptick in Covid cases. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, said she was “scared,” and warned people not to let their guard down.
“I am going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” she said. “We have so much to look forward to, so much potential and promise of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now, I’m scared.”
Walensky asked Americans “to just hold on a little longer. I so badly want to be done. … We are just almost there, but not quite yet.”
“Our work is far from over. The work against Covid-19 is far from done,” Biden said, adding that “if we let our guard down now, we can see our virus getting worse, not better.” He said that they were in a “life and death race” with new variants spreading.
As he finished his remarks, a reporter asked him whether some states should pause their reopening efforts.
“Yes,” Biden said.
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