Biden admin says vaccinating everyone in America is ‘one of the greatest operational challenges’ ever faced

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The White House Coronavirus Task Force said Wednesday the federal government is working to establish coronavirus community vaccination sites across the country with the help of the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency while maintaining that vaccinating all Americans against COVID-19 is "one of the greatest operational challenges" the country has ever faced.

White House Coronavirus Task Force Director Jeffrey Zients, during a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, said the administration is "on track" to meet President Biden’s goal of administering 100 million COVID-19 vaccines in his first 100 days in office.

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Zients said the administration is "encouraged" by the progress to increase vaccine supply and is continuing "to push for every opportunity to do more."

"We are at war with this virus. It is clearly a national emergency," Zients said. "And we are doing all we can."

"This will not be easy," Zients said. "Vaccinating everyone in America is one of the greatest operational challenges we have ever faced and we will not stop working until this mission is complete."

Zients outlined a number of steps the Biden administration has taken in its first two weeks in office, including the government’s purchase of an additional 200 million doses of vaccine — a move officials hope can have most Americans vaccinated by the end of the summer.

"We are on track to meet the president’s goal of 100 million shots in 100 days," Zients said, noting that, on average, 1.3 million vaccines have been administered per day since Biden took office.

Zients also announced Wednesday that the Biden administration has engaged an "all-of-government effort" to provide Americans with "access to more places to get vaccinated" and establish community vaccination centers across the country.

"The federal government is expediting support to bolster community vaccination sites," Zients said, adding that, as of Wednesday, FEMA has provided more than $1.7 billion to 27 states, localities, tribes and territories to cover "critical steps" in establishing these sites, including transportations equipment, and PPE.

Zients said the government is deploying personnel to provide "technical assistance" to support these vaccination sites and said FEMA has already committed more than 600 staff to the effort as well as members of the National Guard and the CDC.

Zients added that the Department of Defense will also "dedicate substantial personnel and resources to help manage many of these new sites," which can range from large centers, to schools, to mobile units, to pop-up units.

This week, the Biden administration is partnering with California to establish two community vaccination sites — one in East Oakland and one on the east side of Los Angeles on the campus of California State University LA, which Zients called "one of the most diverse public universities in the country."

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"These sites in California are just the beginning," Zients said. "Across the first two weeks, we’ve activated a whole of government response, increased vaccine supply, and ensured all Americans, in every community, have more places to get vaccinated."

But Zients urged Congress to pass the president’s coronavirus relief package, saying their work is "critical" and would support the administration’s needs to "scale up the vaccination program," increase testing, and give families, schools, businesses and state and local leaders "the support they need."

The status of the president’s "American Rescue Plan" is unclear at this point. The president hosted a group of Republican senators in the Oval Office on Monday and signaled a willingness to work on the legislation in a bipartisan manner.

The Republicans announced a $600 billion plan Sunday, which includes $1,000-per-person stimulus checks and $300 per week in boosted unemployment benefits through June 30.

The package, though, is significantly smaller than that of Biden's American Rescue Plan, which would cost a whopping $1.9 trillion.

Democrats, meanwhile, are moving ahead with the procedural steps they'd need to pass a plan under what's called budget reconciliation, a once-per-fiscal-year gambit that allows the Senate to go around a filibuster on budget- and fiscal-related legislation.

Brooke Singman Fox News