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Biden to address the nation after signing historic COVID relief bill into law

It was one year ago today the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. On Thursday, days after Congress passed a $1.9 trillion aid bill with a party-line vote, President Biden signed the legislation into law. The president will address the nation tonight about the new law and federal efforts to combat the pandemic. Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    We look now at President Biden's address to the nation tonight.

    Our Yamiche Alcindor is at the White House with the very latest.

    So, hello, Yamiche.

    You have learned a little more about this bill that the president signed this afternoon and what he's going to say about it tonight and how he's going to talk about where we go from here.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    That's right.

    The president is going to be making a series of big announcements tonight, as he has his first prime-time address to the nation to mark the one-year anniversary of COVID lockdowns in the United States.

    The first big thing that he's going to be talking about is putting the nation on a path towards closer to normal by July 4. It doesn't mean that we're going to have big concerts, but he's going to be talking about small indoor gatherings and making things look a little bit more normal than they were before the pandemic hit.

    He's also going to be saying that he's going to be using federal authority to direct all states to make all American adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1. That doesn't mean that everyone will be able to get a vaccine by May 1, but that will mean that all adults in America will be eligible to get one. The administration and the president will be saying that he expects to have enough vaccines to vaccinate all Americans by the end of May.

    The president is also going to be saying that he's going to be increasing the number of vaccination sites and vaccinators. To that point, he's going to be announcing that 4,000 troops, active-duty troops, will be deployed to support vaccination efforts.

    The president's also going to be saying that there's a new government Web site that will be launched to help people make appointments for vaccines. This has been something that's been really problematic.

    And, of course, he's going to be touting the new law that he signed today, that $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, you were telling us this is a part of a big push they are making on vaccine distribution. What is the latest on that?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    That's right.

    There is a big bipartisan push afoot to really convince Americans that these vaccines are normal and are safe for them to take. Today, there were a number of presidents who put out a public service announcement. We heard from President Obama, President Bush, President Carter, and President Clinton.

    Here's what they had to say.

  • Barack Obama:

    So, we urge you to get vaccinated when it's available to you to.

  • George W. Bush:

    So, roll up your sleeve and do your part.

  • Bill Clinton:

    This is our shot.

  • Jimmy Carter:

    Now it's up to you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Despite that push, what we're seeing is a number of Americans saying that they are still very hesitant to get this vaccine.

    Today, we released a new poll from "PBS NewsHour," NPR and the Marist — and Marist poll. Here's what some Americans said; 30 percent of all Americans say they will not — they will not choose to be vaccinated. Of that, 25 percent of Black Americans said they would not get the vaccine, and 49 percent of Republican men said they will not choose to get the vaccine.

    That being said, about 67 percent of people say that they already have gotten the vaccine or plan to get the vaccine. But those numbers are striking. We have talked a lot about the vaccine hesitancy among African Americans and among people of color. But here we see GOP men, GOP voters also very hesitant, so there's a lot of work to be done, as we see those first ladies and former presidents with their message.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    No question.

    I did ask the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, about the large number of Republican men reluctant to get the vaccine. And he made a point of saying that he believes in the vaccine and believes everyone should have it.

    But, finally, Yamiche, I want to ask you about immigration. We know there is an increasingly large number of immigrants coming — attempting to come across the Southern border, including a large number of unaccompanied children.

    What is the Biden administration saying about that today?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    That's right.

    The numbers at the border are spiking. This is another issue, really a dual challenge that the president is having to contend with, as he deals with the coronavirus pandemic. The White House is saying they don't want to call it a crisis. They call it a human challenge.

    But what we see is a large number of unaccompanied minors coming into the United States and being held in facilities that are not made for children. They're being held in jail-like facilities. They're also being held past the number of days that the law says that they should be held in those facilities.

    There are a number of White House officials who went down to the border. They're now trying to scramble to get a really a plan in place. But this is really a logistics and facilities problem here. So, the president's going to be talking about that later on this week.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, Yamiche Alcindor at the White House, thank you very much.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thank you.

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