Biden touts vaccine success
President Biden on Friday marked a new milestone in the fight against the coronavirus — 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered during his first 150 days in office.
“Today we will have reached the mark of 300 million shots in arms in just 150 days,” Biden said in remarks at the White House Friday afternoon, crediting scientists, private companies and a “whole-of-government” response. “That an important milestone that just didn’t happen on its own or by chance.”
“Together, we built an unparalleled vaccination program and managed one of the biggest and most complicated logistical challenges in American history,” he continued. “What we’re seeing is a truly American accomplishment.”
Biden’s remarks represented the latest effort by the White House to convince more Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after vaccinations dropped off considerably in the United States. He cited the dangers of the more contagious Delta variant in urging Americans who have not gotten vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.
Biden looks increasingly likely to fall short of his goal of vaccinating 70 percent of U.S. adults by July 4. Currently, 65 percent of Americans age 18 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine nationwide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A White House fact sheet distributed to reporters on Friday notes that 15 states and Washington, D.C., have met or exceeded the benchmark of 70 percent of adults with at least one vaccine dose. About half of U.S. states and D.C. have fully vaccinated more than half of their adult populations.
However, vaccinations are lagging in other areas of the country, particularly in red states.
An Associated Press-NORC poll out Friday showed that most Americans who have not received a vaccine are unlikely to do so. Of those who have not been vaccinated, 46 percent say they will definitely not get a vaccine, while 29 percent say they probably won’t get vaccinated.
The poll also strikes some positive notes, finding that majorities of Americans are returning to pre-pandemic activities, like visiting family members and going out to eat, as more and more people get vaccinated.
While vaccination rates in some areas of the country remained lower than the administration desired, the U.S. is overall on a positive trajectory in the fight against the virus. Daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 have declined considerably across the country and states have relaxed social distancing measures and mask requirements, allowing business operations and life to move closer to normal.
The White House is planning a large outdoor gathering with essential workers, military members and first responders to celebrate the Fourth of July that will mark the progress against the virus. The event is expected to attract more than 1,000 people, making it Biden’s largest gathering by far at the White House since taking office.
This story was updated at 4:07 p.m.