Biden says US has ‘a way to go’ on coronavirus
President Biden on Tuesday touted the progress the U.S. has made against the coronavirus pandemic but acknowledged that the country has a long way to go amid a rise in cases due to the delta variant.
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting marking his first six months in office, Biden said that his administration’s focus is on persuading those who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 to get their shot.
“I know it seems like a constant uphill climb but gradually we’re making progress,” Biden said. “We got a way to go yet.”
Biden tried to put the recent rise in cases into context, saying that deaths due to COVID-19 are down “dramatically” since he took office. He credited his administration’s vaccination program, which picked up from Operation Warp Speed under the Trump administration and expanded access to vaccines.
“We have to stay vigilant, especially with the delta variant that’s out there. While COVID-19 cases are rising, virtually all of the COVID deaths — virtually all of the COVID deaths — and hospitalizations are from unvaccinated people,” Biden said. “That means the safest thing to do is get vaccinated.”
Biden marked his sixth month in office on Tuesday, offering a “brief progress report” to officials in attendance. The Cabinet meeting was his first conducted in person since taking office. An earlier meeting was held virtually.
Vice President Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen were among the roughly two-dozen Cabinet members who joined the meeting.
While Biden opened with comments about the ongoing fight against the pandemic, he also discussed the economic recovery and his effort to harden America’s alliances. Biden waxed optimistically about the fate of his bipartisan infrastructure deal, even as GOP senators on Capitol Hill demand the delay of a key vote on the package Wednesday as they struggle to finish the details.
“I think we’re on the verge of me really being able to get something done,” Biden said.
Biden’s comments about the pandemic came the same day as news that a White House staffer tested positive for the virus despite being fully vaccinated, a reminder of the continuing threat of the pandemic. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there had been other positive tests among White House officials but did not offer a number.
The individual did not have close contact with Biden, and the White House is still regularly testing staffers for the coronavirus.