Joe Biden, in his first prime time speech, urged Americans to "stick to the rules", noting that the fight against the coronavirus is "far from over". He, however, expressed hope that people will be able to gather in small groups to celebrate 4 July in what could be a first step toward normalcy.
In a somber address, Biden pointed out that the virus killed more Americans in 2020 than three wars and 9/11, combined.
"While it was different for everyone, we all lost something - a collective suffering a collective sacrifice, a year filled with the loss of life. But in the loss, we saw how much there was to gain. An appreciation, respect and gratitude... Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do" he said, proceeding to note that the virus was met with "denials for days, then weeks, then months, that led to more deaths, more infections, more stress, more loneliness."
Moving to a more optimistic tone, the president said that the US is on pace to administer 100 million doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine by his 60th day in office.
"Tonight, I can say we're not only going to meet the goal, because we're actually on track to reach this goal of 100 million shots in arms on my 60th day in office," Biden said.
Biden said he has directed all states, tribes, and territories to make all US adults eligible for a vaccine no later than 1 May, pointing at how this is "much earlier than expected". He also outlined that over 6,000 active duty troops will be supporting vaccination efforts, three times their current number.
According to the president, the country will come out of the pandemic "stronger".
"We faced and overcame one of the toughest and darkest periods in this nation's history, the darkest we've ever known," Biden said.
Earlier in the day, POTUS signed his American Rescue Plan into law, touting the bill as a "fighting chance" that provides $400 billion for facilitating $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments and increased funding for COVID vaccinations.
The legislation passed without a single Republican vote, with GOP members castigating the bill as too expensive.
Biden's Thursday address marked the anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, beginning in 2020 and swiftly moving across the country to make it the top nation affected by the pandemic. Currently, there are over 29 million registered cases, with the death toll eclipsing 530,000.