President Joe Biden emphasized on Thursday that it is crucial to continue wearing face masks until at least 2022 in an effort to save lives, despite declaring that the U.S. will have enough supply of vaccines by the summer to inoculate 300 million Americans, according to the New York Post.

The president told reporters during a visit to the National Institute of Health complex that he would not remove his mask even though he was standing more than 10 feet away from Dr. Anthony Fauci and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.

“You know that wearing this mask through the next year here can save lives — a significant number of lives,” Biden said. “And so I apologize if you don’t hear me as clearly as you, maybe you should.”

Biden also warned that the nation remains “in the teeth of this pandemic” with new, highly contagious variants spreading all the time.

“January of 2021 was the deadliest month we’ve had. We lost over 100,000 — 100,000 of our fellow citizens. We’re on track to cross 500,000 dead Americans this next month,” he said. 

“The new strains emerging create immense challenges, and masking is still the easiest thing to do to save lives. But we need everyone to mask up.

“I know it’s a pain in the neck, but it’s a patriotic responsibility. We’re in the middle of a war with this virus. It’s a patriotic responsibility — not only if you care about your family, if you care about your fellow Americans.”

The New York Post noted that more than 26 million vaccines were delivered in Biden’s first three weeks in office and that the U.S. is reportedly on pace to exceed his goal of administering 100 million doses in his first 100 days.

“Just this afternoon, we signed the final contracts for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines. And we’re also able to move up the delivery dates with an additional 200 million vaccines to the end of July — faster than we expected,” the president said Thursday.

“That means we’re now on track to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July.”

Biden also stated that the government has so far passed on $3 billion to 37 states, territories, and tribes in an effort to bolster existing vaccination centers and open more centers to administer the shots.

“Another point of progress is we’re deploying more vaccinators. We’re now allowing retired doctors and nurses to come back and administer shots,” the president said.

“We’re deploying federal vaccinators, and over the last three weeks, we put hundreds of new vaccinators in the field and are lining up thousands more.”

The “end goal” is “beating COVID-19,” the president said, according to the New York Post.

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