WASHINGTON — Amid frustrations at the slow pace of the national COVID-19 vaccination effort, President Joe Biden says his administration is boosting the number of doses sent to states each week and will be giving state officials more certainty on the number of doses they can expect in future shipments.
Starting next week, a minimum of 10 million vaccine doses per week will be distributed across states, tribes and territories. That’s an increase from 8.6 million doses per week, and a volume that administration officials say they will maintain for each of at least the next three weeks.
States then will continue to receive allocation estimates three weeks in advance, a shift from the week-ahead figures that the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed had offered to state officials.
“Until now, we’ve had to guess how much vaccine to expect for the next week, and that’s what the governors had to do, how much am I getting next week?” Biden said Tuesday afternoon as he announced the policy changes. “This is unacceptable. Lives are at stake here.”
The administration also is working to purchase an additional 200 million vaccine doses — 100 million doses each of the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the only two that so far have cleared the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency authorization process.
Those anticipated purchases — which Biden said his administration believes they will soon be able to confirm — would bring the total of vaccine doses expected to be delivered in the U.S. by this summer to 600 million, or enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans with the two-dose vaccines. The doses are distributed to states based on population.
Governors were briefed on the upcoming changes Tuesday during a call with Biden’s COVID-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients.
One of Biden’s first efforts since taking office last week has been attempting to overhaul the disjointed federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he has described as a “wartime undertaking.”
He’s required more mask-wearing, directed officials to fill gaps in supplies, announced a national strategy to standardize the state-by-state vaccine approach under the Trump administration, and called on Congress to provide more money for the national effort.
Incomplete and lagging data have clouded the picture of the vaccine administration campaign. While states have begged for more doses as vaccination appointments are quickly snatched up, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also show a gap between the vaccine doses delivered to states and those that have been administered.
Of the more than 44 million doses that the CDC says have been delivered, only 23.5 million have gone into the arms of Americans so far. More than 20 million people have gotten their first doses, and roughly 3.5 million have gotten both doses.
Biden has said he wants to see 100 million doses administered during his first 100 days. The U.S. is on pace to meet that goal, and he’s suggested the administration may aim to reach 1.5 million doses per day, up from the current 1 million doses per day.
“One million shots in 100 days is not the endpoint,” Biden said Tuesday. “It’s just the start. We’re not stopping there. The end goal is to beat COVID-19, and the way we do that is to get more people vaccinated.”
Much of the increase in the weekly allocation to states will come from more doses of the Moderna vaccine, according to senior administration officials. The additional doses being sought for purchase are expected to be available this summer.
Pfizer officials said Tuesday that they are on pace to deliver 200 million doses to the U.S. by the end of May. That’s earlier than expected, after health care workers have been extracting a sixth dose from vials that were supposed to contain only five. Doing so requires a special type of syringe, and the Biden administration is working to boost supplies of the special syringe.
‘To heal, we must remember’: In interview, House impeachment manager promises ‘compelling case’ against Trump
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean lined up with eight of her House colleagues Monday evening to walk across the U.S. Capitol, delivering to the Senate a formal charge that sets up the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
It’s also the second time that Dean, a Pennsylvania Democrat, has played a role in the impeachment process. She serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which crafted the impeachment charges against Trump.
Now, she’s been named by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as one of the impeachment managers who will serve as prosecutors in the trial set to begin on Feb. 8. “To heal, we must remember,” Dean said in a phone interview Monday. “That’s what this trial will be about.”
The managers will be tasked with convincing senators to convict the former president on a charge that Trump incited the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol through his repeated refusals to accept the election results and his incendiary rhetoric instructing rally goers to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”
However, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that in a test vote, all but five Republican senators opposed an impeachment trial. The test vote was intended to signal that the Senate would acquit Trump and that a trial would be a waste of time.
In the interview, Dean spoke broadly about the impeachment case, offering few specifics about what the trial will look like. She said the managers will outline a “very compelling case” that Trump did not uphold his presidential oath and should be prevented from holding public office in the future.
“He did not preserve, he did not protect, he did not defend the Constitution,” Dean said. “In fact he launched an attack on it.”
The trial will unfold in what Dean describes as “one of the crime scenes” — the same Senate chamber where a violent mob of Trump supporters roamed after forcing their way into the building. A Capitol Police officer was killed, and four other individuals also died during the chaotic afternoon, including one woman who was shot by an officer outside the House chamber.
The House Democrats involved in arguing for convicting Trump, and the senators who will serve as jurors, aren’t just participating in the impeachment process — they’re also witnesses and victims of what unfolded, Dean said.
She was among House lawmakers who were trapped in the chamber’s gallery. A photo from that afternoon showed Dean with a stunned expression as she and others evacuated the balcony.
Dean described her role as an impeachment manager as a “solemn duty.” She brings to that role a background in the law and in writing: Before becoming a state lawmaker in 2012, Dean earned a law degree and opened her own practice, and later was an English professor at La Salle University in Philadelphia.
In that role, Dean said she would tell her students: “Words matter, the truth matters, the facts matter.”
This impeachment process, and the last set of charges against Trump, both unfolded because of “a man who did not ever care about the Constitution or his oath, or telling the truth,” Dean said.
“And so this extraordinary string of lies culminated in his desperate claim for power,” she added. “His desperate attempt to hold on to power at the end of his term. And he manufactured an attack both on the Capitol, and on our democracy.”
The impeachment charge against Trump was approved in the House with support from every Democrat and 10 Republicans. All North Carolina House members voted along party lines.
So far, no Senate Republican has backed a vote to convict Trump, though they’ve largely avoided defending Trump’s rhetoric since the riot. North Carolina’s Republican senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, have said little in public about the matter.
Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey has said he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses, but also has questioned the constitutional authority of the Senate to begin an impeachment trial now that Trump has left office.
“Should the Senate conduct a trial, I will again fulfill my responsibility to consider arguments from both the House managers and President Trump’s lawyers,” Toomey, a Republican, said earlier this month.
Dean rejected arguments that the Senate should not go forward with a trial, saying that not holding a president accountable for his or her actions at the end of a term would set a dangerous precedent, signaling that future presidents could “go on a crime spree” at the end of their term.
She argued that the only way for the country to move forward “is to remember what happened here, remember the atrocious nature of the president’s words that incited an insurrection and an attack on democracy.”