Biden to address nation 1 year after pandemic declaration

Tonight President Joe Biden is expected to address the nation, marking both his 50th day in office and the 1-year anniversary of the World Health Organization's declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic.

The address comes just hours after Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, a $1.9 trillion relief package that will fund the vaccination of every US adult and offer stimulus payments and unemployment benefits to millions of Americans financially hurt by the pandemic.

States still grappling with vaccine doses

The speech will likely focus on how the United States will "return to normal," aides told the Washington Post, and highlight the major effort the Biden administration has made toward vaccine deployment. Biden campaigned on the promise that 100 million Americans would get vaccinated during his first 100 days in office.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) COVID Data Tracker shows that 95,721,290 US doses have been administered, with 32,904,161 Americans fully vaccinated.

As the federal government distributes more vaccines to states, governors have been left to decide how and when to open criteria for eligibility. In some states, residents are flocking to cities and counties with more lenient vaccination policies, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In Michigan, restaurant and bar workers in some counties are eligible for the vaccine, but are not in other parts of the state.

In the South, which is home to 9 of the nation's 12 states with the highest levels of obesity, governors are prioritizing obesity as a vaccine eligibility rule, according to Kaiser Health News. Twenty-nine states have selected obesity as a priority underlying health condition, Kaiser found, qualifying millions of Americans for doses.

While Americans wait for vaccines, former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama and their former first ladies are part of a newly released ad campaign urging Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it's their turn, CNN reports.

Donald Trump did not join the campaign.

Indoor nursing home visits can resume

Americans, regardless of vaccination status, can visit nursing home residents once again. The recommendation comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with comment from the CDC.

Citing increasing vaccination rates and the mental health toll isolation has taken on residents, the guidelines state "Facilities should allow indoor visitation at all times and for all residents (regardless of vaccination status), except for a few circumstances when visitation should be limited due to a high risk of COVID-19 transmission (note: compassionate care visits should be permitted at all times."

According to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, about 20% of Americans say they lost someone close to them in the past year because of the pandemic. That number is higher among Black (30%) and Hispanic (29%) Americans, and those who make under $30,000 annually (24%).

In related news, the CDC will soon release a report showing that the US death rate increased by 15% last year as a result of the pandemic, Politico reports. The agency will summarize its findings in an upcoming issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer, the CDC found.

"In one year, we have lost over 520,000 Americans to COVID-19. These are grandparents, parents, and children," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said today in a statement. "They are siblings, friends, and neighbors. They are our loved ones and our community. We join together to grieve these losses and intensify our efforts so they were not in vain."

In total, the United States has lost 530,179 Americans to the virus, and has confirmed 29,197,519 cases.

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