Biden sees freedom from Covid by I-Day

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US President Joe Biden has visions of freedom from Covid-19 by Independence Day, July 4, as the pace of vaccinations was accelerating and the infection rates decelerating.

“After this long hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus,” he said on Friday in an address to the nation commemorating the anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

As of Friday, Covid-19 has claimed 530,712 lives in the US and infected 29,214,421 others.

To be free of Covid-19 by Independence Day, he announced a four-point programme with making all adults eligible for vaccines by May 1 as its linchpin.

Currently, states have different criteria for who could get the vaccine based on age, vulnerability and work exposure to the virus.

The other elements of the programme are creating an easy way for people to register to get vaccinated, inoculating teachers and school staff, and issuing uniform guidance on what those who are vaccinated can do.

But he warned that the July 4 deadline is only a goal and before then “a lot can happen, conditions can change”.

“The scientists have made clear that things may get worse again as new variants of the virus spread,” he said.

He pleaded with everyone in the US to get vaccinated.

“We’ve got work to do to ensure everyone has confidence in the safety and effectiveness of all three vaccines.”

Repeating the prevention mantra, the President said: “We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay socially distanced, and keep wearing the masks as recommended by the CDC (Centre for Disease Control).”

While the US has a population of about 330 million, Biden has ordered enough vaccines for 500 million people to provide for contingencies and risks.

Nearly 19 per cent of the US population has been vaccinated, 65 per cent of seniors over the age of 65 have received their vaccines.

The CDC has eased restrictions for those who are vaccinated allowing them to gather indoors without masks and to gather indoors with people like relatives living together.

The seven-day new Covid-19 infection rate has come down from 254,000 two months ago to 65,000.

On Thursday, Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan’ to aid the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.

It was done a day earlier to speed up the relief payment of $1,400 to individuals to reach most bank accounts by the weekend.

The plan covers funding for individuals, small businesses, vaccinations, infrastructure, cash-strapped states and cities, and educational institutions.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)

–IANS

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