A year to the day after the end of the world as we knew it, President Joe Biden announced from the White House on Thursday night a blizzard of new policies aimed at crushing the coronavirus pandemic, while acknowledging the nation’s suffering from social isolation, a deep recession, and a half-million dead from the virus.
“While it was different for everyone, we all lost something,” Biden said in his first national address as president. “A collective suffering, a collective sacrifice.” Americans experienced a “loss of life and a loss of living,” but they also “saw how much there was to gain in appreciation, respect, and gratitude.” Biden also condemned the “un-American” rise in attacks against Asian Americans amid the pandemic.
The speech, delivered at the midpoint of his first 100 days in office, came hours after he signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law. “The only way to get our lives back, to get our economy back on track, is to beat the virus,” he said, detailing the historic stimulus package, which provides $1,400 checks to most Americans and billions in additional testing and vaccination programs.
Biden also provided some hopeful updates for the American vaccination effort, stating that the nation is on track to administer 100 million vaccine doses by his 60th day in office, March 21. The original timeline put forward by Biden was for that to happen by his 100th day in office. He also announced that he is directing “all states, tribes, and territories” to make people over 18 eligible to be vaccinated by May 1: “Because of all the work we’ve done, we’ll have enough vaccine supply for all adults in America by the end of May.” To reach that mark, the vaccination effort will be turbocharged by an effort resembling wartime: new federal mass-vaccination sites and the enlistment of dentists, veterinarians, and other medical professionals — even medical students — to put shots in arms.
The president also put forward a new goal for a return to relative normalcy if Americans stay vigilant and get vaccinated: By July 4, he said that “small groups will be able to get together” outside safely after over a year of isolation.
“That will make this Independence Day something truly special,” he said, “where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.”