The Latest: Biden to deploy more troops to help vaccinations

Politics
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris

President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, looks up after signing the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package (all times local):

6:40 p.m.

President Joe Biden is planning to announce during his prime-time address Thursday night that he’ll deploy 4,000 additional U.S. troops to support coronavirus vaccination efforts. He’s also vastly expanding the pool of people who are eligible to serve as vaccinators.

That’s according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters ahead of Biden’s address to the nation. The official says the president will also announce plans to double the number of pharmacies participating in the vaccination program, expand mobile operations to vaccinate people in communities that have been hard-hit by the virus, and double the number of federally run mass vaccination centers.

There are currently 2,000 active-duty troops supporting vaccination efforts around the country.

The official says the White House plans to detail plans on Friday to expand who can administer shots. Dentists, paramedics, physician assistants, veterinarians and medical students will become eligible to administer vaccinations under the new guidance.

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6:30 p.m.

President Joe Biden will use his first prime-time address on Thursday night to announce that he is directing states to make all American adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine no later than May 1.

That’s according to two senior administration officials who briefed reporters ahead of Biden’s evening address on the one year anniversary of the pandemic. The officials say the president will also say that there is a good chance Americans will be able to safely gather in small groups by July 4.

Biden is also expected to stress that the “fight is far from over.” But he’ll say the nation will be in a “far better place” by the Independence Day holiday if Americans wear masks, follow public health guidelines and get vaccinated when it is their turn. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to keep the focus on the president’s address.

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