WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday appeared to boost his goal for coronavirus vaccinations in his first 100 days in office, suggesting the nation could soon be injecting 1.5 million shots on an average per day.
Biden signaled his increasing bullishness on the pace of vaccinations after signing an executive order to boost government purchases from U.S. manufacturers. It was among a flurry of moves by Biden during his first full week to show he’s taking swift action to heal an ailing economy as talks with Congress over a $1.9 trillion stimulus package showed few signs of progress.
Biden reiterated that he believes the country is in a precarious spot and and that relief is urgently needed, even as he dismissed the possibility of embracing a scaled-down bill to secure passage faster. Among the features of the stimulus plan are a national vaccination program, aid to reopen schools, direct payments of $1,400 to individuals and financial relief for state and local governments.
“Time is of the essence,” Biden said. “I am reluctant to cherry-pick and take out one or two items here.”
Biden’s new vaccination target comes after he and his aides faced criticism for the 100 million goal in his first 100 days in office. The U.S. has exceeded a pace of 1 million doses per day over the last week.
“I think we may be able to get that to … 1.5 million a day, rather than 1 million a day,” Biden said, “but we have to meet that goal of a million a day.”
Biden added that he expects widespread availability of the vaccines for Americans by spring, with the U.S. “well on our way to herd immunity” necessary to end the pandemic by summer. Even so, he warned the nation was going to be “in this for a while, and could see between “600,000 and 660,000 deaths before we begin to turn the corner in a major way.”
As of Sunday, the federal government had distributed 41.4 million vaccine doses to states and other jurisdictions. Of that, 21.8 million doses had been administered, or about 53%. About 3.2 million people had received their full two-dose vaccination, a little less than 1% of the population. That’s according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Already, more than 420,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.
Biden’s team held a call Sunday to outline the stimulus plan with at least a dozen senators, while the president also privately talked with lawmakers.
“There’s an urgency to moving it forward, and he certainly believes there has to be progress in the next couple of weeks,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. She warned that action needed to be taken before the U.S. reaches an “unemployment cliff” in March, when long-term unemployment benefits expire for millions of Americans.
But Republicans on Capitol Hill were not joining in the push for immediate action.
One key Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said after Sunday’s call that “it seems…
Go to the news source: Biden more bullish on vaccines, open to 1.5M daily shot goal