White House to host large outdoor gathering for July 4

White House to host large outdoor gathering for July 4
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The White House is expected to host an outdoor event with more than 1,000 people to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, the largest event President BidenJoe BidenRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Iowa governor suggests immigrants partially to blame for rising COVID-19 cases Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE has planned since taking office during the coronavirus pandemic.

Plans for the Fourth of July event were first reported by the Associated Press and confirmed by a White House official.

Biden plans to host a cookout for first responders, essential workers and members of the military on the White House South Lawn, where guests can watch the National Mall firework display.

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The U.S. has made tremendous progress against COVID-19 since Biden took office, particularly as more and more Americans get vaccinated against the virus, and plans for the large gathering demonstrate a desire on the part of the White House to further signal a return to normal. Biden said in March that July 4 could be a return to some normal life for Americans.  

Still, the country appears likely to fall short of Biden’s goal to vaccinate 70 percent of U.S. adults with at least one dose by Independence Day. More than a dozen states have met the goal while others, mostly red states, lag behind.

Currently, close to 65 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

At the beginning of a press conference in Brussels on Monday, Biden pleaded with Americans who have not gotten vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.

“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.

“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 continued. 

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The U.S. surpassed 600,000 deaths due to COVID-19 on Tuesday. 

Still, cities and states across the country, including Washington, D.C., have lifted mask mandates and capacity limits for businesses as cases have declined and more people have gotten vaccinated. 

“DC is open and ready to welcome back visitors to celebrate the way we came together as a city and as a nation this year. We have shown once again that when we come together, there is nothing we can’t do,” D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserTwo shot outside of popular restaurants in DC, police still searching for suspects The Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics DC mayor, Nationals issue joint statement against gun violence MORE (D) said in a statement Tuesday. “We thank President Biden and his team for acting with urgency to get the vaccine to the American people so that we could save lives, get our country open, and celebrate together once again.”

The White House plans to bring back employees to work in person next month and last week instructed agencies to begin preparing return-to-work plans while still maintaining a flexible work-from-home policy.

Olafimihan Oshin contributed.