Jill Biden brought on the COVID vaccine cheer on Tuesday when she and football star Emmitt Smith visited a vaccination clinic in Dallas.
‘We’re going to get a touch down,’ the first lady said as she encouraged Texans to get a shot in the arm.
“In the sports sense we’re in the fourth quarter and the game is not finished,” Smith said as he reminded people to get vaccinated.
The stop came ahead of Biden and Doug Emhoff pairing up for a vaccine tour of the Southwest, urging people to get shots in the arms in two states with some of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation.
The first lady and second gentleman will make two stops in Texas on Tuesday – Dallas and Houston – ahead of a visit to Phoenix on Wednesday.
Both states have a vaccination rate under 50%: In Arizona, 49% of those eligible have had one shot while 39.5% are fully vaccinated. In Texas, 47.7% have had one shot while 40% are fully vaccinated.
The tour comes amid concerns the Delta strain of the coronavirus could cause a spike in cases. The stops are focused on Americans in their late teens and 20s, the age group with the lowest vaccination rate.
Officials are pushing those in that age range to get vaccinated but the argument that was used so effectively with the elderly – the vaccine could same your life – isn’t resonating as well with younger Americans, who tend to be healthier.
Jill Biden arrives in Dallas to visit a clinic to encourage people to get vaccinated
First lady Jill Biden hugs Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, as she arrives at Love Field Airport in Dallas
Jill Biden, in particular, has been utilized by the White House to try and get more shots in arms. Last week, the first lady was in Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida – all states won by Trump in the 2016 election – to visit vaccine clinics.
‘This first lady as compared to someone, like say Hillary Clinton, is seen as more apolitical so maybe will be listened to by people who didn’t vote for her husband,’ Ohio University Professor Kathy Jellison, an expert on first ladies, told DailyMail.com.
She noted Jill Biden is effective as this as she’s seen as having ‘this very sort of woman next door persona and demeanor.’
‘In many instances a first lady can visit vaccination clinics and get a message out there that’s not seen as political but is just instead a socially responsible message,’ she added.
The administration is trying different ways to appeal the young – including free rides on Uber and Lyft and getting a vaccine badge on your dating profile – to try to up the rates.
The Texas stops on Tuesday are sports themed.
In Dallas, the first lady will be joined by former Dallas Cowboy star Emmitt Smith for a tour of a vaccination site at Emmett J. Conrad High School. As an incentive, people who get vaccinated at the clinic will receive tickets to the Six Flags Over Texas theme park.
The clinic is open to students, staff, and members of the community.
In Houston, Biden and Emhoff will join the Houston Astros for a vaccination event at Minute Maid Park.
The two will also stay for that evening’s baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, according to local reports. Fans can get vaccinated for free from 5-8 p.m the day of Biden and Emhoff visit. Participants will receive two free tickets to either the June 29 game or to one of the upcoming games vs. the Oakland Athletics on July 6-8. Each person getting vaccinated will also receive a 2017 World Series Champs replica ring.
On Wednesday, Biden and Emhoff will be in Phoenix where they will tour a vaccination clinic at a local middle school with Mayor Kate Gallego.
It’s the same day Donald Trump will visit the US/Mexico border with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Arizona has just finished up a recount of the 2016 presidential race in Maricopa County, which is the biggest county in the state and the home of Phoenix. It was ordered by state Senate Republicans. Results are expected to take some time.
Multiple Republicans in the Arizona have criticized the audit, saying the election was fairly conducted and the results – Joe Biden beat Trump by 10,457 votes, or 0.3 percent of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast – are accurate.
Two previous recounts of the ballots in Maricopa County, where Biden won by more than two points, found the results had been accurate.
The audit has no formal authority and will not change the election results in Arizona.
Jill Biden has been traveling the country to encourage people to get vaccinated: In Florida, she met a young girl who had her eight-month old service dog named Wilbur with her
First Lady Jill Biden and White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci greet residents getting vaccinations at the Osceola Community Health Services drive-through in Tampa
Jill Biden makes remarks during a vaccination event hosted by the Tampa Bay Lightning at AMALIE Arena, in Tampa last week
The tour comes amid concerns about the Delta variant, which is 60% more contagious and likely to cause illness. The current vaccines are about 90% effective against it.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said areas of the country could experience ‘very dense outbreaks’ because of the new strain, which originated in India and is in 49 states.
‘It’s going to be hyper-regionalized, where there are certain pockets of the country [where] we can have very dense outbreaks,’ Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Officials have raised red flags about the Delta strain, which is causing an increased number of coronavirus cases in some Southern and Western states.
The Delta variant is responsible for about one in five COVID cases in the U.S., and its prevalence has doubled in the last two weeks.
The push comes as the White House has said it will go ahead with its July 4th celebrations even as the administration failed to meet its goal of getting 70% of adults partially vaccinated by Independence Day.
‘I don’t anticipate at this point our plans changing,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, adding ‘we are confident in our plans moving forward for July 4.’
She pointed out that a ‘majority’ of the delta COVID-19 cases have been among the unvaccinated.
‘We may see some vaccinated people who test positive for COVID, of course, as we know from the data. But those people often have mild symptoms, remain out of the hospital, and the best way we continue to convey to people across the country to protect yourself is to get vaccinated,’ she said.