WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Joe Biden's first news conference since taking office Jan. 20 (all times local):
President Joe Biden is pledging to have 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered by the end of his first 100 days in office. That’s double the goal he set in December and reached earlier this month before his 60th day in office.
Biden is set to announce the new goal Thursday in his first formal news conference since his term began on Jan. 20. That word comes from a White House official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly before the official announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Biden's goal seems ambitious, but it actually amounts to a continuation of the country's existing pace of vaccinations through the end of month. The U.S. is now averaging about 2.5 million doses per day.
A rate even greater than that is possible. Over the next month, two of the bottlenecks to getting Americans vaccinated are set to be lifted. The U.S. supply of vaccines is on track to increase and states are lifting eligibility requirements for people to get the shots.
The scene is set for President Joe Biden’s first formal news conference in the East Room of the White House on Thursday afternoon.
It’ll look quite different from past presidential news conferences, given the coronavirus pandemic.
The presidential lectern is on a rug before American and presidential flags in the expansive room. Just 30 socially distanced chairs are set out, and the White House is limiting attendance at the news conference due to the virus.
Microphones will be shuttled to reporters by White House aides and will be sanitized before being passed to the next journalist. Biden has gone longer than any recent president in waiting to hold an initial formal news conference. He took office Jan. 20.
President Joe Biden has been in the White House since Jan. 20., but only on Thursday, more than two months after taking office, is he holding his first formal news conference.
Biden is the first chief executive in four decades to reach this point in his term without having conducted such a question-and-answer session. The president is set to meet with reporters for the nationally televised afternoon event in the East Room.
Biden has been on pace with his predecessors in taking questions from the press in other formats. But he tends to field just one or two informal inquiries at a time, usually in a hurried setting at the end of an event or in front of a whirring helicopter.
Pressure had mounted on Biden to hold a formal session, which allows reporters to have an extended back-and-forth with the president. Biden’s conservative critics have pointed to the delay to suggest that Biden was being shielded by his staff.
West Wing aides have dismissed the questions about a news conference as a Washington obsession.