Biden calls for mask mandate reinstatement as cases rise despite vaccination rate increase

Coronavirus

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden announced Monday that 90% of adults in the United States will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine and have a vaccination site within 5 miles of their home by April 19.

Biden also announced that the number of pharmacies in the federal vaccination program will double from 17,000 to 40,000 by April 19. The retail pharmacies are located in close proximity to most Americans and have experience delivering vaccines like the flu shots.

This comes days after he pledged to have 200 million vaccine doses administered by the end of his first 100 days in office. That’s double the goal he set in December and reached earlier this month before his 60th day in office.

“I know it’s ambitious, twice our original goal, but no other country in the world has even come close,” Biden said at his first news conference last week.

Biden had previously directed that all states make all adults eligible for vaccination by May 1, but many have moved to lift eligibility requirements sooner in anticipation of supply increases.

The administration has increased its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines after a month of largely stagnant weekly deliveries, giving states the doses they say they need to finish vaccinating priority groups and open shots to all adults in the coming weeks.

Biden announced that the U.S. was expecting delivery of 33 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week — including 11 million doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

Shipments of the one-shot vaccine had been slow to ramp up since its late February authorization as the company waited for regulatory clearance of a key U.S. factory. Pfizer also has boosted the output of its vaccine, doubling batch sizes and shortening production time.

However, the nation’s top infectious disease expert warned of rising numbers of cases and hospitalizations across the country last week.

“When I’m often asked, ‘Are we turning the corner?’ my response is really more like we are at the corner,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci. “Whether or not we’re going to be turning that corner still remains to be seen.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said she is worried about another coronavirus surge similar to the fall.

“Right now, I’m scared…I so badly want to be done,” Walensky said Monday. “So I’m asking you to just hold on a little longer.”

Biden delivered a direct appeal to governors, state and local leaders to reinstate mask-wearing requirements if they have eased them, telling Americans “to mask up, its a patriotic duty.”

Biden addressed the nation from the White House, declaring, “If we let our guard down now, we can see the virus getting worse, not better. People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing.”

The CDC stressed that people need to keep protecting themselves with masks and social distancing. Experts say they’re disturbed by what they’re seeing across the country, like the large crowds gathering in Miami during Spring Break.

Overall, more than 180.6 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed, with more than 143.4 doses administered according to the CDC. Since Biden took office in January, his administration has administered nearly 130 million doses of the shot.

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