President Joe Biden warned Americans that Covid-19 has not yet been “vanquished” and called getting vaccinated “the most patriotic thing” during an Independence Day event at the South Lawn of the White House.
“Covid-19 has not been vanquished,” he said to a crowd of guests in a televised address. “We all know powerful variants have emerged, like the Delta variant. The best defense against these variants is to get vaccinated. My fellow Americans, it’s the most patriotic thing you can do.”
“So please, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated, do it. Do it now, for yourself, for your loved ones, for your community, and for your country,” Biden continued.
The White House hosted a BBQ celebration this year with about 1,000 guests to commemorate U.S. independence and mark the country’s progress in battling the pandemic. In his address, Biden walked a tightrope of signaling progress from last year—”a year of pandemic, isolation, pain, fear and heartbreaking loss”—while also placing emphasis on the dangers of emerging variants.
“We never want to be where we were a year ago. It no longer controls our lives. It no longer paralyzes our nation, and it’s within our power to make sure it never does again,” he said. “Today, we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus. That’s not to say the battle against Covid-19 is over. We’ve got a lot more work to do.”
In May, Biden set a benchmark to fully vaccinate 160 million adults and ensure 70 percent receive their first dose by Independence Day, but the country fell short and is still at least weeks away from the goal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 149 million adults have been fully vaccinated and 66.7 percent have received at least their first dose
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Republican Utah Governor Spencer Cox made appearances on cable news earlier today to call for unity in overcoming the pandemic after a new Washington Post/ABC News poll indicated a strong resistance to the vaccine among GOP voters.
The president and his White House guests watched a lengthy fireworks display set off around the Lincoln Memorial Pool after the address.
His remarks come as the Delta variant, a variant more contagious than others, continues to spread rapidly through the country. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned on Friday that the variant was “doubling nearly every two weeks.” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that an estimated 25 percent of all active cases were due to the variant.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.