Monday, President Joe Biden said that 90% of American adults will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by April 19, and vaccination sites would be within five miles of an individual's home.
Biden's new timeline beats his previous May 1 goal for nationwide eligibility by nearly two weeks. The remaining 10% of the population would be eligible by that time, he said.
"More vaccines, more sites, more vaccinators, all designed to speed our critical work,'' said Biden, who also announced that the federal government would distribute a record 33 million vaccine doses this week.
The president's remarks came hours after a top public health official described a "recurring feeling I have of impending doom" as infections once again are on the rise in a country that leads the world with more than 30 million coronavirus cases.
The Biden administration is racing against the spread of virus variants that may fuel another surge in cases, especially with states loosening restrictions that helped limit transmission but also hurt the economy.
Biden urged governors who have lifted mask mandates to reinstate them, and he warned Americans that the battle against the virus is not over and could actually reverse course, so they need to remain vigilant and adhere to safety measures.
"If we let our guard down now,'' he said, "we could see a virus getting worse, not better."
Earlier Monday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing that daily infections are up 10% from a week ago. Hospitalizations are once again on the rise, she said, and deaths, a lagging indicator, averaged nearly 1,000 per day last week after four consecutive days below 850.
Walensky also expressed concern about increasing travel, saying Americans should limit trips to essential occasions, and a general easing in pandemic restrictions across the nation.
"Right now I'm scared," a shaken Walensky said. "When we see that uptick in cases what we have seen before is that things really have a tendency to surge and to surge big. I just worry that we will see the surges that we saw over the summer and the winter again.”
There was other good news on the vaccine front: The double-shot vaccines sweeping across the nation reduce the risk of infection by 80% after just a single dose two or more weeks after vaccination, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Today's numbers: The U.S. has over 30.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 549,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 127.5 million cases and 2.79 million deaths. More than 180.6 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 145.8 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
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