White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pauses for a moment as she addresses reporters in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. ( Photo by Cameron Smith)

Here are the 3 main highlights from the White House Press Briefing for May 17, 2021.


1. Biden Announces Global COVID Vaccine Distribution

The President announced that he will be sending 20 million authorized vaccines to help countries battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed that President Biden will be sending 20 million authorized COVID-19 vaccine doses abroad by the end of June, adding on to the AstraZeneca vaccine doses he will send during May and June. This is a total of 80 million vaccine doses donated abroad, making the United States the biggest donor in the world of the vaccine by five times. The administration is still waiting for full FDA approval and the clearance of 16 million AstraZeneca vaccines. The countries and quantity of vaccines to each are yet to be announced.

President Joe Biden made an announcement that the pandemic cases are the lowest it has ever been. 60% of Americans have been vaccinated, and Biden gave thanks to those individuals for helping to lower COVID cases in their communities. 

2. Biden’s Administration Call for Two-State Solution for Israel vs Palestine Conflict

Psaki confirmed that Biden supports a two-state solution but will NOT call for a cease-fire unless both states choose to pursue it first.

The Press Secretary acknowledged the current Israel and Palestine state conflict and enforced the President’s point of Israel having the right to defend itself. The administration condemns the actions of both Israel and Palestine resulting in the casualties of innocent civilians, including children and journalists. 

Biden spoke with Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas over the weekend regarding this issue and his stance is with the formation of a two-state solution as the best path to reach a lasting resolution, but it is not possible without both parties agreeing. 

The administration is ardent on maintaining the U.S.-Israeli relationship but condemns the murder of innocent civilians in both states and calls for an end to the violence. However, Biden supports the U.S. Secretary of State Blinken’s sentiment of only supporting a cease-fire if Israel and Palestine choose to pursue this option.

The President’s stance is to support any diplomatic resolution and stand with the U.N. but the United States will not get involved in advocating for a cease-fire between the two countries without their support. 

3. Masks Off, America!

The CDC has announced that fully vaccinated people are free to take off masks indoors and outdoors in public settings.

White House Press Secretary Psaki confirmed that the CDC director has announced Americans who are two weeks after their second COVID vaccination dose is free to take off their masks indoors and outdoors in public settings. However, the Administration has chosen not to interfere with the private sector and allow businesses to make the decision of maintaining a mask mandate. Individuals may choose to keep a mask on due to health risks and vaccination conflicts, but the government will have no say either way. 

More Highlights from May, 17th Press Briefing 

—The Administration reminds Americans that the deadline to file their taxes is today (5/17). The tax returns of the President and possibly the Vice President will be available to the public soon. 

The Administration announces a new Child Tax Credit, which will assist 39 million households by June 15th.

—Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and the Biden Harris administration wants to remind you they will always stand with the LGBTQ community. 

—The Administration is doing their best to pass the bill in commemoration of George Floyd, whose death anniversary is next Tuesday, although this bill will most likely need more time to pass. 

Anoosha Murtaza is a Gen Z Voice at the Pavlovic Today and a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia. Anoosha has a passion for good journalism, strong political views, and social justice. 

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