President Joe Biden has said all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get the shots by May 1. He said this will be an important landmark in the country's fight against coronavirus.
The administration said a national website will be launched at the start of May to give information about vaccination locations. The number of federal mass vaccination centers will be doubled and there will be an additional 4,000 active duty troops to boost the vaccination effort.
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"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 begin to mark our independence from this virus," the president said.
More than a year into the pandemic and more than 530,000 US deaths, Biden, on Thursday, was trying to tell Americans when the country would return to normalcy. He also said that the vaccination drive was well on course to beat targets. On Inauguration Day, his goal was to vaccinate 100 million Americans within the first 100 days of his administration, but this goal would now be achieved in 60 days.
Biden used his first primetime address to make the important announcement. He said he expects life to return closer to normal by the Fourth of July holiday.
However, the President added that optimism and caution should be balanced. "This fight is far from over," he said, adding that Americans should set aside the partisan fights over masks and restrictions. "I will not relent until I meet this virus, but the American people: I need you," Biden said. "I need every American to do their part."
Earlier, the administration officials had said that the president would lay out a plan about how American families will be able to celebrate July 4 Independence Day holiday without the fear of Covid-19.
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"The president will talk about small gatherings like a barbecue in your backyard, in your neighborhood. He will be clear that does not mean large events where lots of people gather, but it does mean that we can once again have an Independence Day, small gatherings and celebrations. And that's a big step in the right direction," a senior aide said.
During the address, the president also emphasized on the need for national healing and called for an end to hate crimes against Asian Americans. By raising his voice against attacks on people of other ethnicities, Biden was also steering away from the China-focus of the earlier administration, which had criticized Beijing for the spread of the virus.
"At this very moment, so many of our fellow Americans are on the front lines 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. It's wrong. It's un-American. And it must stop," Biden said, according to CNN.