Joe Biden will give his first prime-time speech as president Thursday evening, one year after the first sweeping shutdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic began and just a day before the first major legislative victory of his administration.
The White House announced early Thursday that Biden would appear before the nation to address the lives lost over the last year. He will speak for about 20 minutes to honor those affected by the coronavirus and address how the vaccination blitz has been the “greatest operational challenge the country has faced.”
More than 529,000 people have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and though infection rates and the daily death toll have fallen significantly since a peak earlier this year, they remain high.
“[Biden] will lay out the next steps he will take to get the pandemic under control, level with the American people about what is still required to defeat the virus and provide a hopeful vision of what is possible if we all come together,” the White House said.
The address will take place at 8 p.m. EST and be broadcast live from the White House.
The speech will come just a day before Biden is expected to sign a massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package into law. The provision is the first major legislative victory of his administration and will provide many American families thousands of dollars in financial support. It includes $1,400 stimulus checks, a $300 weekly extension in unemployment benefits through September, an increase in the child tax credit to about $3,000 and billions of dollars in aid for state and local governments, among other provisions.
The bill passed in both chambers of Congress this week without any Republican support (it also includes some provisions to appease moderate Democrats).
“This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation ― the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going ― a fighting chance,” Biden said shortly after the bill’s passage in the House. “On Friday, I look forward to signing the American Rescue Plan into law at the White House ― a people’s law at the people’s house.”
Biden’s address also comes at a seminal moment in the nation’s effort to fight back the pandemic. More than 62 million people in the U.S. have now received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, and the pace has increased at a rapid clip, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The nation as a whole is now inoculating about 2.15 million people a day, and some states have begun to dramatically expand who is eligible to receive the vaccine.
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