March 2 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden said Tuesday there will be enough COVID-19 vaccines for every adult in the United States to be fully vaccinated by the end of May, two months sooner than previously expected.
He made the announcement at the White House while unveiling details about a partnership between Johnson & Johnson and Merck, which are traditionally competitors, to ramp up production of the former's newly approved single-shot vaccine.
Biden called the cooperation between the two companies "a major step forward."
"That's progress -- important progress.
"With this increased production of three safe and effective vaccines, we have an opportunity to help address the urgent national need more quickly and get our schools back open safely," he added.
Biden said he's also implementing a new pharmacy program to get every pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade educator and childcare provider their first vaccine by the end of March. He said the effort will help see his promise to open schools.
Earlier Tuesday, updated data from Johns Hopkins University showed the United States added about 58,800 new coronavirus cases on Monday and 1,500 related deaths. Both counts were a slight increase over Sunday's figures.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been about 28.67 million coronavirus cases and 514,700 deaths nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins.
The White House COVID-19 Response Team said millions of doses of the new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen, the third to receive emergency approval in the United States, will begin deliveries on Tuesday.
The administration said the primary distributor for the new vaccine, McKesson, is shipping doses to providers nationwide via FedEx and UPS. One of the top advantages of the new vaccine is that it doesn't need to be stored and shipped at super freezing temperatures like those from Pfizer and Moderna.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 96.4 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the United States and 76.9 million doses have been administered.
Other COVID-19 updates Tuesday:
- Biden will speak with Senate Democrats on Tuesday afternoon to discuss strategy for passing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which was passed by the House on Saturday.
- Schools in California are preparing to reopen classrooms next month for millions of students statewide after an agreement between lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom.
- The Alabama Crimson Tide, college football's reigning national champions, are planning to play games this fall with full capacity (101,000-plus fans) at home games.