Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, July 23, 2021 | Beaufort County Now | Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, July 23, 2021

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Press Release:

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room  •  Washington D.C.  •  July 23  •  1:14 P.M. EDT

    MS. PSAKI: Hi everyone. Happy Friday. Okay, a couple of notes for you at the top.

    Today, the Biden-Harris administration took additional steps to provide stability and relief to homeowners who are still feeling the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    HUD, USDA, and the VA announced details to help people with government-backed mortgages stay in their homes through monthly payment reductions and potential loan modifications.

    Homeowners could see reductions in their monthly payments of roughly 20 to 25 percent, allowing them to remain in their homes and build long-term equity.

    We're working hard to get the word out to Americans who may benefit from these new programs. And thanks to the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and today's actions, most servicers of mortgages are required to provide borrowers information about these options.

    Homeowners can visit for up-to-date information and more details.

    Also would note, on our delegation in Haiti, the presidential delegation is safe and accounted for in light of the reported shootings outside of the funeral. They're on their way back to the United States.

    We are deeply concerned about unrest in Haiti. In this critical moment, Haiti's leaders must come together to chart a united path that reflects the will of the Haitian people.

    We remain committed to supporting the people of Haiti in this challenging time.

    Also, a vaccine-sharing update for you: We shipped a record number of doses to a record number of countries this week. Twenty-two million doses went out to 23 countries, including Guatemala, Senegal, Zambia, Niger, Gambia, El Salvador, Honduras, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Lesotho, Panama, Vietnam, Georgia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Mozambique, Benin, Morocco, Tajikistan, Colombia, Madagascar, Liberia, and Eswatini.

    Our teams across the government are working to get more and more doses out every day, but this was a record week for our efforts to provide supply to the global community.

    Finally, week ahead: On Monday, the President will host an event in the Rose Garden to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which the President proudly cosponsored as a senator. While we have much work to do to realize the full aspiration of the ADA, our country has made progress toward its goals of equality of opportunity, full participation, self-sufficiency, and respect for the 61 million Americans with disabilities.

    Also Monday, the President will welcome Prime Min- — the Prime Minister of Iraq to the White House. The Prime Minister's visit will highlight the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq, and advance bilateral cooperation under a Strategic — the Strategic Framework Agreement.

    The visit will also focus on key areas of shared interest, including through education, health, cultural, economic, energy, and climate initiatives. President Biden looks forward to strengthening bilateral cooperation with Iraq on political, economic, and security issues, including joint efforts to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS.

    On Wednesday, the President will travel to Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley — in the Lehigh Valley area, where he will emphasize the importance of American manufacturing, buying products made in America, and supporting good-paying jobs for American workers.

    We'll have more details for you over the weekend as things get finalized.

    Josh, why don't you kick us off.

    Q:  Thanks, Jen. Two subject areas. First, an AP-NORC survey found that 45 percent of the unvaccinated say they would definitely not get vaccinated. Another 35 percent say they probably won't get vaccinated. Why does this opposition still exist after all the public outreach? And should more governments and employers mandate vaccinations?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, Josh, I think — let's take a step back first. In December, before the President took office, the percentage of Americans willing to get a shot was in the 30s. Today, over 68 percent of adult Americans have taken a shot.

    So, what that shows you is that, in a relatively short period of time, we've been able to influence a whole lot of people to change their minds, taken ac- — take action, get a shot, save their lives and the lives of people around them.

    I'd also note that we've seen some encouraging data over the last couple of weeks. The five states with the highest case rates — Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Nevada — had a higher rate of people getting newly vaccinated compared to the national average. That is a good sign. This is the second week in a row — I noted this last week.

    And finally, in the past 10 days, more than 5.2 million Americans have gotten a shot.

    Now, there will be institutions, there will be private-sector companies, and others who make decisions about how to keep their communities safe. That's certainly appropriate, but I would just note that we're going to continue our efforts to go community by community, case by case to convey the accurate information about the efficacy of vaccines.

    Q:  Gotcha. Secondly, the Taliban has said that, as a condition for peace in Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani has to be removed as President and a new negotiated government formed. Does the administration believe that that's in the best interest of the Afghan people and U.S. national security?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, first, the President and the administration supports the leadership of the Afghan people, including Ashraf Ghani. The President was scheduled to speak with him today, I believe, and I don't believe there's a readout that's come out about that call quite yet. It may while we're speaking here.

    I would note that there are ongoing political negotiations and discussions that we certainly support between Afghan leaders, members of the Afghan government, and the Taliban. And we believe a political solution is the only outcome to lasting peace in Afghanistan, but we will continue to provide support to the government in the form of humanitarian support, security support, training. And we'll also continue to encourage them to take a leading role in defending and protecting their own people.

    Go ahead.

    Q:  Thanks, Jen. Alabama's Republican governor says it is "time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks" who "are letting us down." What do you think about that take? Should the administration be taking a sharper tone against unvaccinated people for putting vaccinated people at risk?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I don't think our role is to place blame, but what we can do is provide accurate information to people who are not yet vaccinated about the risks they are incurring not only among — on themselves, but also the people around them.

    And while, if you are a young person, you may think you're Superman or Superwoman and immune from the — from getting the virus, that is not true. That is not accurate. You can get very sick. You can die from the virus. You can also make your grandparents sick and your parents sick. That is factual information.

    We're not — but we're not here to place blame or threats; we're here to provide accurate information.

    Q:  She says that she doesn't know what else she can do at this point, that she's hit a brick wall with trying to convince people to get vaccinated. Is that a sign that perhaps the federal government should step in and issue mandates? And if not, are you putting the needs of unvaccinated people ahead of the needs of vaccinated people?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the question here — one, that's not the role of the federal government; that is the role that institutions, private-sector entities, and others may take. That certainly is appropriate. Also, local communities are going to take steps they need to take in order to protect people in their communities.

    I will say: We understand her frustration, and we understand the frustration of leaders out there and public voices who are trying to say the right thing, advocate for the efficacy of the virus, save people in their communities.

    What our role is and what we are going to continue to do is make the vaccine available. We're going to continue to work in partnership to fight misinformation. And we're going to continue to advocate and work in partnership with local officials and — and trusted voices to get the word out.

    Q:  And is there something to be learned from our neighbors to the north — Canada? They got a much slower start. They didn't have nearly as many vaccines as we did early on. And yet, now they've shot past us, and 70 percent of their population is at least partially vaccinated. What's the difference between the two countries? What can we learn from their experience?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, first, I would say 162 million Americans are now vaccinated. That certainly is a positive step. We're the first to say and we have long said that that's not enough. We need to ensure more people and more communities are vaccinated. And it is now — we reached a point where there are some communities, even states, where there are 70 percent, 80 percent, or higher vaccination rates.

    Other communities where there's 40 percent, 50 percent, or otherwise, that's not just a health issue — it's a huge health issue — it's an economic issue. We've seen how that can impact local communities, as it may lead to shutdowns of different businesses. That can have — it's an economic issue as well.

    So, of course, we work in close partnership with our neighbors, but we have 162 million Americans vaccinated. We're the world's largest provider of vaccines to the global community. That's progress, in our view, even as we've said from the beginning there's more work to be done.

    [ ... ]

    Read the full transcript HERE.

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