The White House seems unlikely to meet its goal of having 70% of Americans with at least one COVID-19 vaccine by July 4, so President Biden is shifting focus onto a new milestone while also warning those who haven’t received their shot of spreading variants.
“So many people have already been vaccinated, but the Delta variant can cause more people to die in areas where people have not been vaccinated,” Biden said Friday in remarks on the pandemic.
As of Friday, around 65.1% of people in the U.S. have received at least one COVID shot, and that number has increased by less than one percent over the past two weeks. Fifteen states and Washington, D.C. have vaccinated 70% of their residents. Fifty-five percent of Americans are fully vaccinated.
Instead of repeating his July 4th goal, Biden on Friday parroted a new milestone: 300 million shots administered in his first 150 days in office.
Biden in early May said July 4th would represent a pivot to normalcy where Americans could gather with family and friends, though that date came earlier for many when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines to say vaccinated people did not need to wear masks or social distance in most settings.
Still, the White House is planning a July 4th “Independence from virus” bash.
The holiday will see the largest event yet of Biden’s presidency: He plans to host first responders, essential workers and military servicemembers and their families on the South Lawn for a cookout and to watch the fireworks over the National Mall. Well over 1,000 guests are expected, officials said, with final arrangements still to be sorted out.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra have embarked on a nationwide vaccination tour to push for those who are reluctant to take the vaccine to get inoculated.
“When you get the vaccine for yourself, that means that you will not possibly pass it on to somebody else in general because you’re unlikely to get Covid,” the vice president said, adding, “Isn’t that an extension of love thy neighbor?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.