On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced that all US adults will become eligible to receive a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, two weeks earlier than previously planned.
“Despite the progress we are making as a nation, I want every American to know in no uncertain terms that this fight isn’t over. This progress we have worked so hard to achieve can be reversed. Now is not the time to let down. Now is not the time to celebrate,” Biden said at the White House. He noted that his administration remains on track to distribute 200 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office, which end on April 30.
He said that so far in his term, the US has administered 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses out of an adult population of 209 million people. The total US population is 328 million.
As a consequence, Biden bumped the previous goal of May 1 up by two weeks, to April 19, for every American adult to be eligible to receive the vaccine, which has been distributed on a tiered rollout that prioritized older and vulnerable parts of the population first. He added that the “vast majority” of the US adult population would receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of May.
However, despite the successes, Biden cautioned that vaccination levels are nowhere near sufficient to prevent cases from spiking once again, with less than half the US population protected.
“The vaccination program is saving tens of thousands of lives but the pandemic remains dangerous. Let me explain it in a single word: Time. Even moving at the record speed... we are not even halfway through vaccinating over 300 million Americans. This is going to take time,” he said.
Some US states have already moved to roll back their government safety mandates, with 10 states including Texas, Indiana, Montana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Wisconsin lifting their mandates to wear protective masks, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
On Monday, the Texas Rangers professional baseball team played its first home game in Arlington, Texas, to a stadium packed to capacity with more than 40,000 fans. Biden previously called the decision a “mistake.”
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US recorded 62,000 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, roughly the average since late February but down considerably from the early January highs, which peaked on January 8 at 315,000 new cases. Just 353 deaths were recorded on Monday, the lowest number since an anomalously low November date and before that, July. Nearly 556,000 Americans have died of the virus.