Biden to announce 300M COVID-19 shots given in 150 days
President Joe Biden is marking another milestone in his quest to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control and help Americans return to a more normal way of life.
Biden will announce that 300 million COVID-19 shots have been administered in the 150 days since he took office on Jan. 20, the White House said in previewing the president's latest coronavirus update to the American people, set for Friday afternoon.
But as Biden marks a new milestone, he is in danger of failing to meet another: his target to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4, in a little over two weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 305 million vaccine doses had been administered as of June 1O. Overall, about 172.4 million people, or 51.9 percent of the total U.S. population have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the CDC.
About 141.6 million people, or 42.6% of the U.S. population, have been fully vaccinated.
The pace of new vaccinations in the U.S. has dropped significantly from a high of nearly 2 million per day about two months ago, jeopardizing Biden's ability to hit the 70% mark.
The White House, in previewing Biden's remarks, says his whole-of-government approach to the vaccination effort has put the virus in retreat, which in turn has brought COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths to their lowest levels in more than a year.
The administration is in the midst of a month-long blitz to combat vaccine hesitancy and the lack of urgency some people feel to get the shots, particularly in the South and Midwest.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday that she expects the delta variant of the coronavirus will become the dominant strain in the U.S. That strain has become dominant in Britain after it was first detected in India.
During an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America," she said the vaccines work and told Americans who get their shots "you'll be protected against this delta variant."
As part of the administration's vaccination push, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Atlanta on Friday to tour a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor until his assassination in 1968. The current senior pastor is U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Harris also plans to speak at a COVID-19 vaccination mobilization event at Clark Atlanta University, a historically Black school.
The Biden administration insists that even if the 70% vaccination goal is unmet, it will have little effect on the overall U.S. recovery, which is already ahead of where Biden said it would be months ago.
Biden wants to celebrate July 4 as a "summer of freedom" from the virus.
Earlier this week, the White House announced plans to host first responders, essential workers and military service members and their families on the South Lawn for a cookout and to watch the fireworks over the National Mall.
More than 1,000 guests are expected for what will be one of the largest events of Biden's presidency.
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