The President’s Covid-19 response team said in a briefing Friday that they believe they will have enough vaccine supply in place for all American adults by the end of May after securing commitments for 200 million doses from Moderna, an additional 200 million doses from Pfizer and another 100 million doses from Johnson & Johnson.
But White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients acknowledged Friday that the administration still has a great deal of work to do in expanding the number of vaccination sites and vaccinators to ensure there’s the infrastructure to vaccinate all Americans who want to get their shots by the end of May. The administration has repeatedly touted that it has doubled the amount of vaccine going out to the states during Biden’s first seven weeks in office — and are now averaging about 2.2 million shots per day, but major challenges remain.
For starters, availability of the vaccine doesn’t mean Americans will get it.
The political complications for Biden in convincing reluctant Americans to get the vaccine also came into sharper focus last week with a new CNN poll showing that 28% of Americans said they do not plan to get a coronavirus vaccine, compared with 69% who said they will (or already have gotten a dose of the vaccine).
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, highlighted that problem during a press briefing Friday after visiting a vaccination clinic in Atlanta where he said hesitancy among “White Republicans” remains a concern and suggested expanding partnerships between pharmacies and “local churches, civic clubs and others to continue to build up the confidence and convince people that, look, this is the right thing to do.”
“We recognize, as a Democratic administration with a Democratic President, that we may not be the most effective messenger to communicate with hardcore supporters of the former President. And we have to be clear-eyed about that,” Psaki said, adding that doctors, medical experts and community leaders might be better suited to persuading that population.
Republicans try to reshape narrative about Covid relief bill
Biden said at last week’s signing ceremony that his massive relief bill — the first big win of his administration — was “only the beginning.”
And although many aspects of the bill are broadly popular with the public, Biden’s plan to sell it on the road this week stems in part from what he views as the Obama administration’s failure to win enduring public support for the 2009 stimulus package that was passed after the 2008 economic collapse. (Obama tapped Biden to implement that bill).
Not a single Republican supported Biden’s package in either the House or the Senate, and many GOP lawmakers have framed it as too large, too expensive and too lavish in its spending, despite expressing their support for certain provisions after it passed. Others have argued that that level of economic stimulus is no longer needed to get the economy roaring again.
Before Biden’s first prime-time address Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the American economy is on the road to recovery not because of the relief bill, but because of the “five historic bipartisan bills” passed last year “to save our health system, protect our economic foundations and fund Operation Warp Speed to find vaccines.”
“The American people already built a parade that’s been marching toward victory,” McConnell said. “Democrats just want to sprint in front of the parade and claim credit.”
But for Biden, his trip this week is about more than selling his own first major legislative win. It’s part of his effort to rebuild Americans’ trust in government and its ability to help average people after four years in which Trump continually undermined government institutions.
Whether Americans buy that pitch in this highly partisan climate will go a long way toward determining Biden’s success in the Oval Office.
In his prime-time address, Biden promised to tell Americans if aspects of his stimulus legislation fall short, and he amplified that message on Friday in the Rose Garden.
“It’s one thing to pass the American Rescue Plan. It’s going to be another thing to implement it,” the President said.
“It’s going to require fastidious oversight to make sure there’s no waste or fraud, and the law does what it’s designed to do. … We have to get this right. Details matter, because we have to continue to build confidence in the American people that their government can function for them and deliver.”