By Kate Sullivan, CNN
President Joe Biden travels on Saturday to Traverse City, Michigan, as part of July Fourth celebrations that the White House is looking to use to mark the US’s progress in the fight against Covid-19.
The White House’s theme for the holiday weekend is “America’s Back Together,” and the administration is promoting the idea that much of the nation is returning to pre-pandemic life as Americans get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The administration is still racing to get the rest of the nation vaccinated, particularly as a concerning variant spreads, but officials are pointing to July Fourth as a weekend to celebrate the nation’s progress.
“The Fourth of July is a moment for us to step back and celebrate our progress,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters on Thursday. “We’ve made tremendous progress in our fight against the virus, with now two out of three adult Americans with at least one shot. And directly because of this work, deaths and hospitalizations have fallen 90% since January 20.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, echoed that sentiment and said: “You can still celebrate at the same time as you get your message very, very clear … that is: If you are vaccinated, you have a high degree of protection. If you are not, you should wear a mask and you should think very seriously about getting vaccinated.”
First lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, second gentleman Doug Emhoff and members of Biden’s Cabinet will also travel across the country over the holiday weekend. Jill Biden will travel to Maine and New Hampshire, and Harris will travel to Nevada on Saturday. Emhoff traveled to Utah on Friday.
Biden’s Cabinet will also deploy across the country to attend roundtables and baseball games and visit fire stations, festivals, parades, cookouts and more, according to the White House. States that members of the Cabinet will visit include Colorado, Virginia, Oklahoma, New Mexico, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Ohio, Iowa and New Hampshire, along with Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.
The trip comes ahead of a massive celebration the Bidens are hosting at the White House on July Fourth for more than a thousand essential workers and military families on the South Lawn. The celebration will be the largest in-person White House event since Biden took office. The National Mall will also be open for the traditional July Fourth fireworks and crowds are expected to gather.
The White House recently acknowledged the US would fall short of Biden’s July Fourth Covid-19 vaccination goals, saying the country has more work to do to get younger Americans vaccinated. The President had aimed to get 70% of US adults to have at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot and to have 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July Fourth. According to the CDC, as of Friday before the holiday weekend, 67% of US adults have had at least one shot.
But after saying the US was expected to hit those goals weeks after the initial target date, Zients said this week the administration had “exceeded our expectations for where we would be on July 4th.” But he said the administration still had a lot of work to do to get the rest of the country vaccinated and protected, and that the administration would be doubling down on their efforts.
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