President Joe Biden has said victory over the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is at hand as nearly 165 million people have received at least one vaccine jab and numbers of COVID-19 cases declined, even as the nation returns to normalcy.
“I set an ambitious goal of getting 70 percent of adult Americans at least one shot by July Fourth. Today, just over a month to go, we’re at 62 percent,” President Biden said. About 51 percent of the US population has been fully vaccinated.
Biden’s remarks come as Americans prepared to enter the Memorial Day holiday weekend when many gather for outdoor picnics and barbecues, and travel for family get-togethers at the unofficial kick-off of summer in the US.
“Every American should be proud of what we’ve accomplished and we did it together. But we still have five weeks left to hit our goal,” Biden said, appearing at a rock-climbing gym in Virginia, a state that has lifted all COVID-19 distancing and capacity restrictions at private businesses.
Biden had set the date of July 4 as a target for a 70 percent vaccination rate among US adults. That would mean 160 million adults would be fully vaccinated.
The US is under pressure from the World Trade Organization to allow other nations to manufacture US vaccines.
Biden had previously announced the US would start sending 20 million doses of US vaccines abroad by the end of June
“If we succeed, we can celebrate our independence from the virus together on the Fourth of July as we celebrate our independence as a nation. The future is only going to get brighter.”
The US has suffered more than 593,000 deaths since the pandemic began but the numbers of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations have declined as vaccines have become widely available. Businesses are reopening and the economy is rebounding.
“All over the country we’ve gone from pain and stagnation of a long dark winter to an economy on the move going faster than it has in nearly 40 years,” Biden said.
Ten US states of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Hawaii have reached the 70 percent vaccinated threshold, according to Biden administration officials.
“When I took office, we’re averaging 184,000 cases per day nationwide. And today, we’ve gone from 184,000 cases per day nationwide to fewer than 20,000 cases per day,” the president said.
“Thousands of moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, brothers, sisters, neighbours, friends are still with us today who would otherwise have been lost,” Biden said.
The Biden administration announced incentives earlier this month for people to get vaccinated.
Now if you text your zip code to “438829”, you not only instantly know where vaccines are near you, but you can get a FREE RIDE there and back! pic.twitter.com/obyEy2QnJa
— Andy Slavitt 🇺🇸💉 (@ASlavitt) May 26, 2021
The US now has 80,000 locations nationwide where people can get vaccinated. There are 10,000 sites offering vaccinations without an appointment and ride-hailing services Lyft and Uber have offered free rides to and from vaccination sites.
The administration has also partnered with dating apps to help connect people to vaccination sites.