The Associated Press
Staff

WASHINGTON –
US President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he was pushing back by two weeks his deadline for states to make all adults in the US eligible for coronavirus vaccines.But although he expressed optimism about the timing of the vaccinations, he warned Americans the nation is not yet out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic

“Let me be extremely serious with you: we are not at the finish line We still have a lot of work to do We are still in a lifelong race against this virus,” Biden said in an address to the House White

The president warned that “new variants of the virus are spreading and evolving rapidly Cases are rising, hospitalizations are no longer decreasing” He added that “the pandemic remains dangerous”, and urged Americans to continue washing hands, to distance oneself socially and to wear masks

Biden added that while his administration is on schedule to meet his new goal of delivering 200 million doses of the vaccine in its first 100 days, it will still take time for enough Americans to get vaccinated to slow down. the spread of the virus

But he expressed hope that his announcement on Tuesday, that every adult will be eligible by April 19 to register and register in a virtual queue to be vaccinated, will help expand access and vaccine distribution Some states had already started pushing back their deadlines compared to the initial May 1 target

Biden made the announcement after visiting a COVID-19 vaccination site at the Immanuel Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria During his visit, he thanked everyone for administering the snapshots and coming forward to receive them

The president also said no one should fear the coronavirus mutations that are showing in the US after being discovered in other countries He acknowledged that the new strains are more virulent and more dangerous, but said that “vaccines work on all “

Biden also announced that 150 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been shot in the arms since his inauguration on January 20.This puts the president on track to meet his new target of 200 million shots administered on his 100th day. of function, April 30

Biden’s initial target was 100 million shots by the end of his first 100 days, but that number was reached in March.

Still, he admitted on Tuesday that his administration failed to meet its goal of delivering at least one shot to every teacher, school staff and educator during the month of March, to try and speed up the reopening of schools. Biden announced the goal early last month and directed federal resources toward achieving it, but said on Tuesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated about 80% of teachers, school staff and educators had received an injection

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff also spent Tuesday promoting the COVID-19 vaccine, each visiting a vaccination center, Harris in Chicago and Emhoff in Yakima, Wash.

Harris praised workers and those who received their shots at a site set up in a local union hall, and referred to spring as “a time when we feel a sense of renewal”

Some states consider easing health restrictions, even as country faces potential further rise in virus cases

On Tuesday, Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, warned the country is in a “critical period” because “we could just as easily tip into a wave”

“It would be a setback for public health, but it would also be a psychological setback,” he said in an interview with the National Press Club He noted Americans are experiencing ‘COVID-19 fatigue’ after more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions on public life aimed at slowing the spread of the virus

Biden and many of his advisers have warned of reopening the economy too quickly and relaxing mask mandates, at the risk of causing a new surge in virus cases

“We just don’t want to have to go back to really stopping things. It would be terrible,” Fauci said

But Biden’s announcement of the April 19 deadline was meant to inject optimism into a public tired of the restrictions, and it comes as a flood of vaccines is sent to states this week.

Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, told governors on Tuesday in a weekly conference call that more than 28 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be delivered to states this week, the press secretary of White House Jen Psaki at her daily briefing

This allocation brings the total amount of vaccine distributed over the past three weeks to more than 90 million doses, Psaki said

At least a dozen states opened eligibility to anyone 16 and over on Monday alone, while New Jersey and Oregon this week announced that all residents 16 and over would become eligible on April 19.

The President announced last week that 90% of adults would be eligible for one of three COVID-19 vaccines approved by April 19, in addition to having a vaccination site within 5 miles of their homes

But eligibility is not the same as being vaccinated Being eligible means people can sign up to reserve their spot in a virtual line until they can make an appointment

“That doesn’t mean they’ll get it that day,” Psaki said, speaking of a vaccine. “This means they can join the queue that day if they haven’t already done so”

Seniors still waiting to be vaccinated should look for appointments quickly “because the lines will get longer” after April 19, Psaki said “There will be more people waiting”

The White House said on Monday that nearly 1 in 3 Americans and more than 40% of adults had received at least one vaccine and that nearly 1 in 4 adults were fully vaccinated Seventy-five percent of people over 65 have now received at least one vaccine, and over 55% of these are fully vaccinated

Two of the three vaccines require two doses given several weeks apart The third vaccine requires only one injection

Associated Press editors Sagar Meghani, Zeke Miller and Josh Boak in Washington contributed to this report

US President Joe Biden puts on his face mask after speaking about the COVID-19 relief package in the White House State Dining Room on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Washington (AP Photo / Patrick Semansky)

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