President Joe Biden reasserted that the general public will have access to 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July and said he’s hopeful the country will be in a “significantly better” place by Christmas.
The president’s comments at his first town hall event, with CNN in Milwaukee, follow his announcement last week that the White House had secured hundreds of millions of additional coronavirus vaccines, enough to inoculate nearly everyone in the country.
The nation’s vaccination blitz has sped up in recent weeks, and nearly 40 million people have now received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine. But there are still many reports of Americans struggling to make an appointment, particularly the elderly who may have trouble with problematic online booking systems and transportation.
Asked what kind of timeline Americans could hope for to see the country return to some sense of normality, Biden declined to give a concrete schedule but said he hoped by Christmas “we’ll be in a very different circumstance, God willing, than we are today.”
“We don’t know for certain, but it is highly unlikely that by the beginning of next year … that we are not significantly better off than today,” Biden said, adding that health measures were still important up to and beyond that point. “It matters whether you continue to wear that mask. It matters whether you consider to socially distance. They matter, and they can save a lot of lives while we get to this point where we get to herd immunity.”
Biden addressed some frustrations about the vaccination rollout during the town hall, saying he believed teachers should be moved up in the hierarchy and that he planned to address racial disparities in vaccine access. He also said that now was the time to “go big” on federal support for workers and businesses still reeling from the pandemic, touting his proposal for a $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
The president also repeatedly laid blame on his predecessor, Donald Trump, for leaving “nothing in the refrigerator” when it came to vaccine preparedness, saying that “there was very little federal guidance” when he entered the Oval Office.
But Biden said his administration had spent the past month working to dramatically increase the available supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines — both of which have received emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration — and was hopeful about other vaccines emerging from clinical trials.
Biden also said Tuesday that he was also tired of talking about Trump and was ready for the country to move on.
“Look, for four years all that’s been in the news is Trump,” Biden said. “The next four years I want to make sure all the news is the American people.”
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