Despite President Joe Biden declaring this week that the United States will have enough COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the summer to inoculate 300 million Americans, he told Americans that they will need to wear face masks until at least 2022.
Biden visited the National Institutes of Health complex in Bethesda, Maryland, this week. During a news conference with Dr. Anthony Fauci and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, Biden informed Americans that he is recommending that they wear masks for the rest of the year.
"I had a little discussion with my friends behind me, Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci, about whether or not I should take my mask off, and the truth is, although we're more than 10 feet away, I think it's important that I not," Biden said.
"It's critically important the message — and I realize I'm speaking to a vast majority — at least, I hope I am — of the folks out here at NIH," he stated. "You know that wearing this mask through the next year here can save lives — a significant number of lives.
"We lost over 100,000 — 100,000 of our fellow citizens," Biden said. "We're on track to cross 500,000 dead Americans this next month."
"The new strains emerging create immense challenges, and masking is still the easiest thing to do to save lives," he asserted. "But we need everyone to mask up.
"I know it's a pain in the neck, but it's a patriotic responsibility," he said. "We're in the middle of a war with this virus. It's a patriotic responsibility — not only if you care about your family, if you care about your fellow Americans."
Biden exclaimed that the U.S. government had signed the final contracts for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines. He added, "That means we're now on track to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July."
Biden noted that the federal government "provided $3 billion to 37 states and territories and tribes to bolster existing vaccination centers and create more of the centers to administer — where we administer the vaccine."
In December, Biden promised Americans a much shorter mask timeline – "Just 100 days."
"On the first day I'm inaugurated, I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask," Biden told CNN on Dec. 3. "Just 100 days to mask — not forever, just 100 days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction."
April 30, 2021, will be 100 days after Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.
President Biden: “It’s critically important … you know that wearing this mask, through the next year here, can save… https://t.co/KAd5Wt4Wlh— The Recount (@The Recount)1613080218.0
Also this week, Fauci moved the goal posts of when the U.S. could reach herd immunity. In December, Fauci said the U.S. could reach herd immunity by the summer if the majority of Americans — 75% to 80% — are inoculated with the vaccine by the second quarter of 2021.
However, Fauci walked back his timeline on last Sunday, saying it would be "very difficult" to achieve herd immunity before the end of the summer.
Top members of Biden's COVID-19 response team believe that the "U.S. may not reach herd immunity until Thanksgiving or even the start of winter."