Biden news: President says 90% of adults eligible for vaccine in April as he calls for mask mandates

Biden says he expects to run for second term

Joe Biden announced that 90 per cent of all adults in the United States would be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine within the next three weeks in an initiative to roll out more locations to administer millions more doses by 19 April.

It came as the president called for renewed mask mandates in states that have lifted the pandemic precautions, saying he believed that some states should stop their reopening plans.

“Please, this is not politics, reinstate the mandate if you let it down, and businesses should require masks as well,” Biden said.

As the country marches toward reopening after a year of lockdowns, the White House is looking to create coronavirus “vaccine passports” that would prove holders have been inoculated.

The initiative would see the development of a standard credential for Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in a bid to help reduce the risk of infections as businesses move to re-open at full capacity, with 17 groups and government agencies already working on it, according to The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator under Donald Trump, has suggested in a CNN interview that hundreds of thousands of deaths from the pandemic could have been “mitigated” if the former president had acted differently.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the Joe Biden administration and US politics.

Louise Hall29 March 2021 09:58

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Biden administration coordinating ‘vaccine passport’ rollout

The Biden administration is coordinating an expansive group of private stakeholders and government agencies looking to create and Covid “vaccine passports” that would prove individual holders have been inoculated.

The effort to roll out vaccine passports comes as restaurants, concert venues, sports teams, and other businesses that have been acutely affected by Covid look to re-open at full capacity in the coming months.

Griffin Connolly reports:

Louise Hall29 March 2021 10:17

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Trump administration’s handling of pandemic cost hundreds of thousands of lives, Deborah Birx says

Doctor Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator in the Trump administration, has suggested that hundreds of thousands of people may have died needlessly due to coronavirus as a result of the former president’s handling of the pandemic.

In an interview with CNN as part of an upcoming documentary titled Covid War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out, Dr Birx said: “I look at it this way: The first time, we have an excuse. There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge.”

Dr Birx, 64, who was a prominent member of the former president’s coronavirus taskforce then added: “All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”

Since the pandemic gripped the US in March last year, more than 30.3 million people have been infected with the novel virus, leading to more than 549,000 deaths, the highest death toll of any country in the world.

Louise Hall29 March 2021 10:27

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Lindsey Graham demands Biden ‘apologise’ to border agents

Senator Lindsey Graham has called on Joe Biden to “apologise” to US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents dealing with the surge of unaccompanied migrant children being allowed into the US at the southern border, which has overwhelmed housing and processing facilities.

CBP agents told Mr Graham, who was one of 19 GOP senators to visit the border in Texas this weekend, that they had warned the new administration that allowing unaccompanied children into the country would flood the system, the South Carolina Republican said.

“They were told this. They did this anyway,” Mr Graham said in an interview with Fox News Sunday. “He needs to apologise, President Biden, to the Border Patrol agents and their families for putting them through this.”

Griffin Connolly reports:

Louise Hall29 March 2021 10:41

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Donald Trump Jr calls Biden ‘weak’ in rant against president

Donald Trump Jr has attacked President Joe Biden in a new rant posted on his Twitter late on Sunday, calling him “weak” after twenty Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.

“Joe Biden is weak and China knows it. That’s why they’re pushing into Taiwanese airspace like never before. Biden’s weakness has emboldened our enemies,” the former president’s oldest son wrote in a caption alongside the four minute video.

Louise Hall29 March 2021 10:53

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Biden craving ice cream after giving up sweets for lent

President Joe Biden has said the first thing he wants to eat when lent ends is ice cream, having revealed that he gave up sweets this year.

Speaking before boarding Air Force One on Sunday, Mr Biden was asked what he had given up for lent, the forty days leading up to Easter, this year.

“I gave up all sweets for Lent. You have no idea how hard it is for me,” Mr Biden said in reply.

The reporter then asked: “What’s the first sweet you’re looking forward to having when it’s over?”

“Ice cream,” the president responded.

Mr Biden, who is the second Catholic president in US history and the first since John F Kennedy, speaks frequently about his faith and its importance in his life. 

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Kamala Harris frustrated as renovations keep her from VP residence

More than two months after being sworn in as vice presidentKamala Harris is still unable to move into her official residence due to ongoing renovations.

An administration source told CNN that it’s unclear why work is taking so long at the traditional home of vice presidents, on the grounds of the Naval Observatory.

Vice President Harris is reportedly getting “frustrated” according to another source, with the network saying that she is “ostensibly, living out of suitcases”.

Oliver O’Connell reports:

Louise Hall29 March 2021 11:12

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Biden asserts American Rescue Plan set to ‘cut childhood poverty in half’

Joe Biden has asserted that the American Rescue Plan is set to “cut childhood poverty in half,” calling the projection a “big deal.”

The promotion came on the president’s official twitter account alongside an official White House graphic boasting the provisions of the $1.9 trn (£1.3 trn) eonomic stimulus bill passed last month.

Louise Hall29 March 2021 11:23

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Trump crashes wedding at Mar-a-Lago asking: ‘ Do you miss me yet?’

Donald Trump turned up at a wedding at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida over the weekend, lashing out at president Joe Biden and asking the crowd: “Do you miss me yet?” 

In a video shared by TMZ, the former president is speaking on a mic while dressed to the nines in black tie and begins picking apart decisions of the Biden administration.

“I get all these splash reports, and they’re telling me about the border, they’re telling me about China, they’re telling me about Iran,” Mr Trump said.

“The border is not good. It’s the worst that it has ever been,” Mr Trump later added. “What’s happening to the kids, they’re living in squalor. They are living like nobody has ever seen. There’s never been anything like this.”

“Do you miss me yet?” the former president asked the reception, which responded with loud cheers.

Louise Hall29 March 2021 11:43

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Fox host blasts White House for being ‘less transparent’ than Trump on border crisis

Fox News’ Chris Wallace has blasted the White House for being ‘less transparent than Donald Trump on the border crisis after he pressed Joe Biden’s press secretary on opening the border facilities to the media to report on conditions.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki promised transparency but declined to provide an exact timeline on when journalists would be allowed to survey the scene.

When Mr Wallace accused Ms Psaki of being less transparent than the Trump administration at the border, she responded: “We are committed to allowing cameras into Border Patrol facilities.”

Louise Hall29 March 2021 11:48

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