Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials | Beaufort County Now | Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Press Release:

Via Teleconference  •  Washington D.C.  •  June 22  •  12:35 P.M. EDT

    MR. ZIENTS: Good morning, and thanks for joining us. We're joined by Drs. Fauci, Walensky, and Murthy, who I will turn to in a few moments.

    First, today, I want to report on the progress we are making in our fight to end the pandemic, specifically as it relates to the President's goals for July 4th.

    In March, on the one-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic and less than two months after taking office, President Biden provided Americans an update on the whole-of-government effort he was mobilizing to defeat the virus and set what, at the time, seemed like an audacious goal for the country: independence from COVID-19 by July 4th.

    The President was clear about what achieving this very ambitious goal would require. First, we needed to build on the work we began on January 20th, taking additional bold steps to make vaccines even more accessible to all Americans and to further accelerate the pace of vaccinations.

    And second, we needed "every American to do their part." He said, quote, "If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there's a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and celebrate Independence Day." He said that this would not mean large events with lots of people together, but rather with small groups of close friends and family.

    Just three months later, look at where we are. We have succeeded beyond our highest expectations. Instead of just small, backyard gatherings, America is getting ready for a truly historic Fourth of July, with large celebrations planned in communities across the country.

    Here at the White House, we will be celebrating our independence from the virus with over 1,000 people on the White House lawn — 1,000 of our nation's military and frontline workers celebrating how far we have come as a country in such a short period of time.

    And here's why we are able to do so: Since the President took office, COVID-19 cases and deaths are down by over 90 percent. Nearly every state is open for most activities, and the economy is rebounding strongly.

    Importantly, today I am announcing exciting news. We have already met the President's 70 percent goal for all U.S. adults 30 and older. That's right: For those ages 30 and above, 70 percent have at least one shot.

    We got here because the President treated this as a wartime effort; built a whole-of-government response to defeat the pandemic; and mobilized state and local governments, the private and non-profit sectors, and asked every American to join this fight.

    In the past 150 days, we went from not having enough supply to securing supply — enough supply to vaccinate all Americans and making every adult eligible for vaccinations months ahead of expectations.

    We went from not having enough places to get vaccinated to more than 81,000 convenient vaccination sites. In fact, today, 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a vaccine site. Tens of thousands of sites offer walk-in vaccinations, and thousands are open 24 hours a day on Fridays in June.

    And Americans have new tools to find the most convenient vaccination sites and free transportation to get to and from sites.

    We have built an unparalleled, first-of-its-kind, nationwide vaccination program. And as a result, we have successfully executed the most complex, logistical task: administering 300 million shots in just 150 days.

    To put that into perspective, at the pace the U.S. was vaccinating before the President took office, it would have taken 336 days — almost a year — to get 300 million shots in arms.

    Instead of hitting the major milestone of 300 million shots in June, we would have hit it in December — six months from now. And America would have looked a lot different than it does today. We would have lost more lives; more people would have gotten sick; and many of our businesses, restaurants, and schools would still be closed.

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    The President understood that we did not have a day to waste, and we have moved at an unprecedented speed.

    Importantly, Americans have responded to the President's call. More than 175 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves and gotten at least one shot, and over 150 million Americans are now fully vaccinated.

    As a result, we are close to achieving two aspirational goals we set for July 4th. The first goal was related to the percentage of adults who have at least one shot by July 4th. We asked Americans, state and local governments, and the private sector to help get to 70 percent of all adults with at least one shot by July 4th. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have already met this goal.

    And let's remember, when the President took office, we were at approximately 5 percent of adults with one shot. So, in just five months, we have been racing from 5 percent to 70 percent.

    So, how are we doing? Today, I want to drill down on the numbers that show where we have made the most progress and where we have more work to do.

    We set 70 percent of adults as our aspirational target, and we have met or exceeded it for most of the adult population. This is a remarkable achievement.

    When we began our vaccination campaign, we prioritized the most vulnerable. And it's clear from the numbers that this strategy has worked. Looking at Americans 65 and older — our most at-risk group — we have more than 87 percent with at least one shot. Again, 87 percent of seniors, who tragically accounted for about 80 percent of COVID deaths, have gotten at least one shot. And today, nearly 80 percent of people 65 and older are fully vaccinated. That's lifesaving progress.

    For Americans who are 40 years old and over, 75 percent have received at least one shot. For Americans 30 and older, we have met the President's goal of at least one shot. That's right: We have met the President's 70 percent goal for all U.S. adults 30 and over.

    And based on today's estimates, we're on track to hit the 70 percent target for those age 27 and over once the data for the July 4th holiday weekend is fully in.

    So, as to our goal of 70 percent for all adults, we're going to hit it for adults 27 and older. This is amazing progress and has our country returning to normal much sooner than anyone could have predicted.

    Where the country has more work to do is particularly with 18- to 26-year-olds. The reality is: Many younger Americans have felt like COVID-19 is not something that impacts them and they've been less eager to get the shot.

    However, with the Delta variant now spreading across the country and infecting younger people worldwide, it's more important than ever that they get vaccinated.

    We are working with state and local leaders to reach them. We think it'll take a few extra weeks to get to 70 percent of all adults with at least one shot, with the 18- to 26-years-olds factored in.

    So, to recap: With respect to the first goal of getting at least one shot to 70 percent of American adults, already we're at almost 90 percent for 65 and older, over 75 percent for 40 and older, and 70 percent for 30 and older.

    We will meet the 70 percent goal for ages 27 and older by end of July 4th weekend, with a few extra weeks needed for the 18- to 26-year-olds to get vaccinated.

    Now, everyone involved in this effort knows, and the President has said repeatedly: Our work does not stop on July 4th or at 70 percent. But we used this aspirational goal to drive progress in a very short period of time. It has taken a huge collective effort, and we have made significant progress.

    The second aspirational goal we set was to have 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July 4th. For context, only 3 million Americans were fully vaccinated when the President came into office.

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    In just five months, we've grown that number from 3 million to over 150 million fully vaccinated Americans. That represents more than 56 percent of the adult population. This is important progress across the country. And we will hit 160 million Americans fully vaccinated no later than mid-July.

    Throughout the last five months, the President has set goals to rally the American people behind defeating this virus, with the most important and most ambitious being to celebrate our independence from the virus on July 4th — for America to look like America again. And thanks the President's whole-of-government effort and the American people stepping up to do their part, we are there.

    The virus is in retreat in communities across the country. We are entering a summer of joy, a summer of freedom. This is cause for celebration, and that's exactly what Americans will be able to do on July 4th: celebrate independence from the virus.

    But we're not done, because for all the progress we've made as a nation, individuals who are still unvaccinated are still at risk. We are not leaving anyone behind in our response. And we will continue to put equity at the center of everything we do, to focus on helping at-risk and hard-hit communities drive up vaccination rates.

    We want every American in every community to be protected and free from fear of the virus. That's why we'll keep working to vaccinate more Americans across the summer and into the fall. As I said, we are not stopping at 70 percent, and we're not stopping on July 4th.

    And as we push to get more Americans vaccinated, we're also focused on leading the efforts to vaccinate the world. We're in a position to do so because of our success here at home and because we've secured enough supply — more than enough supply for all Americans.

    In the last week alone, we have shipped millions of surplus U.S doses overseas, including to our neighbors in Mexico and Canada, as well as Taiwan. In total, we've already committed to sharing 580 million doses, and we expect to continue to commit more and more to the world over the summer months as we help lead the fight to end the pandemic across the globe.

    Now to say more about why the progress we are making here at home matters, let me turn it over to Dr. Fauci.

    Dr. Fauci.

    DR. FAUCI: Thank you very much, Jeff. I'm going to just spend a few minutes now recapitulating what Jeff said about where we are, where we want to be, and how we get there, and what the obstacles are.

    And can I have the first slide.

    As Jeff has said, our aspirational goal for July 4th was 70 percent of the adult population receiving at least one dose, but that is not the goal line, nor is it the endgame. The endgame is to go well beyond that, beyond July 4th, into the summer and beyond, with the ultimate goal of crushing the outbreak completely in the United States.

    Now, what are one of the main obstacles for that? Obviously, it's under-vaccinated people and under-vaccinated regions of the country, particularly among the young and, as Jeff said, particularly among individuals 18 to 26 — although any age of an unvaccinated person is someone we need to get vaccinated as we concentrate on the younger.

    Next slide.

    If you take a look, for example — can I have the next slide, please. There are 16 states, plus the District of Columbia, have vaccinated greater than 70 percent; 4 U.S. states vaccinated less than 50. And so between them, you have 30 states between 50 and more than 70 percent. And those are the individuals that we need to concentrate on.

    But let's take a look at what the challenge is.

    Next slide.

    [ ... ]

    Read the full transcript HERE.



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