Getting everyone vaccinated by summer or early fall means not just coming up with more doses, but increasing the rate of vaccination by two to three times. Biden pledged to meet that challenge. As first steps, he notified states that starting next week the number of doses going out will increase from about 8.5 million to 10 million a week. He also pledged to be clear to states about quantities they will be receiving so that each state can better plan how to efficiently distribute vaccine.
President Biden mentioned several times his intuition to use the Defense Production Act, not just to secure more vaccine, but to make sure there are adequate supplies. That includes the vials and syringes needed for vaccination, personal protective equipment needed to protect healthcare workers, and swabs and reagents needed for testing.
Biden also continued to emphasize that in the near term, masks are a more valuable tool than vaccines. He repeated projections that having a high rate of mask-wearing just between now and April can save over 50,000 lives, and he took a swipe at Republicans who sneered at the idea of Biden’s 100-day mask order, saying that real patriots wear a mask to protect their fellow citizens.
On travel restrictions, Biden made it clear that he wants universal testing of all travelers coming into the United States before they’ve left their origins, and isolation of travelers on arrival. This level of restriction is perhaps the only step that would work considering that numerous variants are now being carried around the world and bans against specific nations or regions have limited utility.
Overall, the theme of the appearance continues Biden’s absolute commitment to address the COVID-19 crisis head on, and deliver for America the kind of effort that should have been there … over 400,000 lives ago.