UPDATE, 3:37 PM PT: President Joe Biden plans to announce that he will push for all American adults to be eligible for a vaccine by May 1.
Biden will outline an accelerated schedule for vaccinations, including directing states and local governments to end their restrictions on who can be inoculated, the White House said. The timeline does not mean that all adults will be vaccinated by May 1, but it would mean that anyone can sign up for an appointment. Currently states vary on who can get the vaccine and when.
The president also plans to announce that the administration will ramp up efforts for more people to get vaccinated. That includes making the vaccine available at more than 20,000 pharmacies across the country.
The goal will be to get the country "closer to normal by July 4th, Independence Day."
Biden also will announce the deployment of more than 4,000 active duty troops to support the vaccination efforts, for a total of 6,000. The White House said he also will expand the pool of those qualified to administer the shots, widening the scope to include professionals such as dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and even veterinarians.
The administration also plans to launch a website by May 1 for people to find where to get a vaccine, as well as a 1-800 call center.
Biden also will announce the administration's efforts to reopen schools, with $130 billion available from the American rescue Plan for locations to accommodate safety measures and such things as smaller class sizes. The new law also provides money for regular screening testing. Biden already announced a goal for all teachers to get their first Covid-19 shot by the end of this month. The Department of Education will host a national Safe School Reopening Summit this month.
PREVIOUSLY: President Joe Biden signed a massive, $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan in a small Oval Office event today, with Vice President Kamala Harris joining him to mark the administration's first major legislative achievement.
Major news networks CNN, Fox News and MSNBC carried the signing event.
The plan provides $1,400 direct payments, extends enhanced unemployment benefits and provides money for state and local governments, while also giving an infusion of funding to expand vaccination efforts.
"I believe this is, and most people I think do as well, this historic legislation is rebuilding the backbone of this country, and giving people in this country, working people, middle class folks, people who have built the country a fighting chance," Biden said.
With the bill signed into law, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that people can expect to see direct deposit payments to their accounts as soon as this weekend.
The White House originally said that Biden would sign the bill on Friday, but Psaki said that because Congress "enrolled the bill more quickly than anticipated," the signing was moved up. She said that Biden and Harris would still hold a signing event on Friday, with House and Senate Democrats attending.
Biden will deliver his first primetime address at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT tonight, with major broadcast networks planning to carry. The speech is expected to focus on explaining the American Rescue Plan, as the bill is known, to the public, as well as the next steps in curbing the pandemic. Biden is expected to travel in the coming weeks on a "Help is Here" tour to tout the legislation, with trips planned for Pennsylvania and Georgia next week.
No GOP members of Congress voted for the Covid-19 bill, even though polls show the legislation enjoyed support from Democrats and independents and a large share of Republicans. The administration has highlighted the public support in defending the inability to win over Republicans in the Senate and the House.
A rundown of benefits that the relief plan will provide to the entertainment industry is here.
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