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Sunday, July 21, 2024

BIDEN: This is ‘Not the Time to Not Stick with the (Virus) Rules’

'My message to you is this: Listen to Dr. Fauci...'

(Headline USA) President Joe Biden pledged in his first prime-time address to make all adults eligible for vaccines by May 1 and raised the possibility of beginning to “mark our independence from this virus” by the Fourth of July.

He offered Americans fresh hope and appealed anew for their help.

Speaking in the White House East Room Thursday night, Biden honored the “collective suffering” of Americans over the past year in his 24-minute address and then offered them a vision for a return to a modicum of normalcy this summer.

“We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by,” he said. “We are also bound together by the hope and the possibilities in the days in front of us.”

He predicted Americans could safely gather at least in small groups for July Fourth to “make this Independence Day truly special.”

But he also cautioned that this was a “goal” and attaining it depends on people’s cooperation in following public health guidelines and rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated as soon as eligible, trying to reassure doubters that the vaccine is safe:

My message to you is this: Listen to Dr. Fauci, one of the most distinguished and trusted voices in the world. He has assured us the vaccines are safe. They underwent rigorous scientific review. I know they’re safe. Vice President Harris and I know they’re safe. That’s why we got the vaccine publicly in front of cameras so — for the world to see, so you could see us do it. The first lady and the second gentleman also got vaccinated.
Talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors — the people you know best who’ve gotten the vaccine.

We need everyone to get vaccinated.

Only that, he said, can bring about an end to a pandemic that has killed more than 530,000 Americans and disrupted the lives of countless more.

The speech came just hours after Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion relief package that he said will help defeat the virus, nurse the economy back to health and deliver direct aid to Americans struggling to make ends meet.

Some cash distributions could begin arriving in the bank accounts of Americans this weekend.

“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said as he signed the bill in the Oval Office.

Most noticeable to many Americans are provisions providing up to $1,400 in direct payments and extending $300 weekly emergency unemployment benefits into early September. Also included are expanded tax credits over the next year for children, child care and family leave — some of them credits that Democrats have signaled they’d like to make permanent — plus spending for renters, food programs and people’s utility bills.

In his Thursday night address, Biden said that as vaccine supplies continue to increase, he will direct states and territories to make all adults eligible for vaccination by May 1. The U.S. is expecting to have enough doses for those 255 million adults by the end of that month, but Biden warned the process of actually administering those doses would take time, even as his administration looks to instill confidence in the safety of the vaccines to overcome hesitance.

“Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately, but it means you’ll be able to get in line beginning May 1,” he said.

Even as he offered optimism, Biden made clear that the July 4 timetable applied only to smaller gatherings, not larger ones, and requires cooperation from Americans to continue to wear face coverings, maintain social distancing and follow federal guidelines meant to slow the spread of the virus in the near term. He also called on them roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible.

This is “not the time to not stick with the rules,” Biden said, warning of the potential for backsliding just as the nation is on the cusp of defeating the virus.

“I need you, the American people,” he added. “I need you. I need every American to do their part.”

Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.

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