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Biden to move deadline for states to open Covid vaccines to all U.S. adults to April 19

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Joe Cobarrubio, 34, is given a vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Artesia, California, U.S., April 5, 2021.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

President Joe Biden is expected to announce Tuesday that states should open Covid-19 vaccine appointments to all U.S. adults by April 19, moving up his original deadline by nearly two weeks, a White House official confirmed to NBC News.

Biden is expected to announce the new deadline later Tuesday following his visit to a vaccination site in Alexandria, Virginia. The deadline, though voluntary, applies public pressure to states that haven’t already expanded their eligibility guidelines.

A few weeks ago, Biden called on states, tribes and territories to make all U.S. adults eligible for vaccination no later than May 1. However, most states have already announced plans to open eligibility to all adults by April 19. Only Hawaii and Oregon haven’t already announced plans to have open eligibility by that date, according to NBC News.

Biden announced last week that 90% of adults in the U.S. would be eligible for Covid-19 shots by April 19 and will be able to get them within 5 miles of their home under an expanded vaccination plan. Roughly 40,000 pharmacies will distribute the vaccine, up from 17,000, the president said, and the U.S. is setting up a dozen more mass vaccination sites by April 19.

“For the vast, vast majority of adults, you won’t have to wait until May 1. You’ll be eligible for your shot on April 19,” Biden said March 29 during a news conference on the government’s Covid-19 response and vaccination efforts around the country.

Biden is also set to announce Tuesday that the U.S. has reached 150 million shots administered within his first 75 days in office, according to NBC News.

The president is pushing to have 200 million Covid shots administered within his first 100 days in office. As of last week, the pace of U.S. vaccinations has been averaging about 3.1 million doses per day, Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior pandemic advisor, said Monday.

More than 40% of adults have had at least one shot, Slavitt said. He added that 75% of seniors have now received at least one shot, and more than half are fully vaccinated.

Even as the pace of vaccinations picks up, highly contagious variants are rapidly spreading, potentially stalling the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.

Last week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said B.1.1.7, the variant first identified in the U.K., is starting to become the predominant strain in many regions of the U.S., accounting for 26% of Covid-19 cases circulating across the nation.

Walensky said Wednesday she expects to see more infections in the U.S. due to the transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant. She urged the public to continue pandemic safety measures, such as washing hands, wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

“This is a critical moment in our fight against the pandemic,” Walensky said Wednesday. “We can’t afford to let our guard down.”

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