President BidenJoe BidenFighter jet escorts aircraft that entered restricted airspace during UN gathering Julian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy FBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp MORE on Monday urged Americans who have not yet gotten vaccinated against the coronavirus to do so as soon as possible, pointing to the nearly 600,000 lives lost domestically from the virus.
“We’ve made enormous progress in the United States. Much of the country is returning to normal and our economic recovery is leading the world and the number of cases and deaths are dropping dramatically but there are still too many lives being lost,” Biden said, noting that the U.S. is still averaging about 370 daily deaths from the virus.
“My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one,” Biden continued. “I know that black hole that seems to consume you, that fills up your chest when you lose someone close to you that you adored.”
Biden then appealed to Americans who have not gotten a dose to do so “as soon as possible.”
“If you have not been vaccinated, get vaccinated. Get vaccinated as soon as possible. We have plenty of vaccinations, plenty of sites. We have more work to do to beat this virus and now is not the time to let our guard down,” Biden said.
Biden made the comments at the outset of a press conference following a NATO summit in Brussels as part of his first foreign trip as president.
Over 599,900 Americans to date have died from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Biden has set a goal of vaccinating 70 percent of U.S. adults with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 4. While 13 states have reached that threshold, others are lagging behind and Biden appears increasingly unlikely to meet that goal.
Nationally, 64.5 percent of Americans above age 18 have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The White House has embarked on a multipronged effort to address vaccine concerns, deliver doses to hard-to-reach Americans and incentivize individuals to get their shots over the next month. Earlier Monday, Vice President Harris kicked off a vaccine tour in South Carolina.
“The vaccines — let me say it again — are safe. They are safe. And they are free. And they are effective. And it is that simple. If you are vaccinated, you are protected. If your community is vaccinated, COVID rates in your community will go down,” Harris said in Greenville, S.C.
Health experts have raised concerns about a new, dangerous Delta variant against which a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is decidedly less effective, according to one U.K. study.