Just hours after signing the American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package that includes direct payments to Americans, monthly cash for American parents, free insurance through COBRA/affordable insurance through ACA, and billions for states, local governments, schools, and more to help speed up vaccinations and pandemic-proof schools, among other things, the President gave a prime-time address announcing more good news.
That good news? That by July 4th — the beginning of the summer — “there’s a good chance … you’ll be able to get together and have a cookout or a BBQ in your backyard.”
That’s not all President Biden brought up in the speech — he also sped up the vaccination timeline once again and offered a genuine message of unity and hope amid a pandemic that has killed nearly 530,000 Americans in a single year.
Here’s what to know about the speech.
Biden Directed States To Make Vaccines Available to All Adults By May 1
While the speech was a bit like a somber, tone-appropriate victory lap after passing one of the biggest pieces of legislation in American history, Biden didn’t take long to start building on the next steps to keep fighting COVID-19.
Perhaps the most major announcement from a policy perspective was that he would be directing states to make all vaccines available for all adults by May 1st — a move coupled with his previous announcement that the administration would be making enough vaccines for every single adult by the end of May — and that the administration purchased 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the manufacturer.
These moves are massive, as they address issues all along the vaccine administration pipeline. States are currently allowed to set their own guidelines on who can and cannot get vaccinated — and changing this, alongside pushing for teachers to be getting at least their first dose by the end of March and freeing up vaccine eligibility, will help states actually use the doses the administration is quickly producing.
And, he noted that the administration had wanted to administer 100 million vaccines in 100 days and that the administration will beat that goal by 40 days. He also announced that about 2 million vaccines will be administered per day going forward.
There are literally billions of dollars in the stimulus package to help states hire workers and direct people like dentists and veterinarians to administer COVID-19 vaccines, double the amount of federally run vaccination sites and pharmacies, which will help the vaccine get into more arms faster as more places begin to offer it. And, if everyone is vaccinated by, say, mid-June, then the next major part of the speech begins to feel genuinely doable.
He Said July 4th May Be When We Return To “Normal”
Joe Biden announced that he plans to mark “independence from the virus” (cheesy, but very fun!) by July 4th. By that date, he expects that we could do the normal July 4th things — have a grill out, see family and friends. While we won’t be done with COVID-19 completely, the idea of seeing people outside of our own households is a shot of hope almost too big to bear.
He Rehashed The Stimulus Package
Biden touted the package just passed and brought up specific aspects of the package that will make his May 1 and July 4 deadlines more achievable. Billions in vaccine administration and production funding, $130 billion to schools to pandemic proof them, stimulus checks, monthly child allowance payments, $350 billion to states and cities struggling under the weight of the pandemic that will also use that money to hire people, $30 billion to independent restaurants and bars, etc., etc. The bill is big — not as big as we all would have hoped — but still massive.
He Called For Unity Among Americans
Beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity,” President Biden said in the speech, adding that he needed “every American to do their part” to beat COVID-19 so we can get back to real life again and stop feeling, and experiencing constant death and loss.
He Offered Words Of Grief — and of Hope
At one point in the 20-minute speech, President Biden pulled out a card that he says he keeps in the pocket of his jacket at all times, which is the number of Americans who have died of COVID-19. He also said that there is hope, “and light, and better days ahead,” while reminding us all of all that we have lost over the past year.