Washington D.C. August 3 4:29 P.M. EDT
Good afternoon. Last week, I laid out what we need to do to beat the COVID-19 vi- — pandemic and the challenges posed by the Delta variant.
This is a very different variant than what we've dealt with previously. It's highly transmissible, and it's causing a new wave of cases. It accounts for over 80 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the United States today. Experts tell us that we're going to see these cases rise in the weeks ahead — a largely preventable tragedy that will get worse before it gets better.
What's different about this surge from previous ones is we have the tools to prevent this rise in cases from shutting down our businesses, our schools, our society, as we saw what happened last year.
And while cases are on the rise, it's important to note we've not seen a comparable rise in hospitalizations or deaths in most areas of the country.
That's because 165 million Americans are fully vaccinated, including 80 percent of the most vulnerable Americans — our seniors.
The best line of defense against the Delta vac- — the virus is the vaccine. It's as simple as that. Period. The vaccine.
I want to be crystal clear about what's happening in the country today: We have a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
Now, I know there's a lot of misinformation out there, so here are the facts: If you're vaccinated, you are highly unlikely to get COVID-19. And even if you do, the chances are you won't show any symptoms; and if you do, they'll most likely be very mild.
Vaccinated people almost never are hospitalized with COVID-19. In fact, according to one recent study, 95 percent of overall COVID-19 hospitalizations are among those not fully vaccinated.
And the data shows that virtually all the cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19 are from the unvaccinated population.
Last month, a study showed that over 99 percent of COVID-19 deaths have among — have been among the unvaccinated people. Ninety-nine percent.
That means, if you're unvaccinated, you are much more likely to, one, get COVID-19; two, get hospitalized; and, three, die if you get it.
This is a tragedy. People are dying and will die who don't have to die. The data is absolutely clear: As I've said, we have a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
Think of it this way: A hundred and ninety-one million Americans have gotten at least one shot, including 70 percent of adults over the age of 18. A hundred and sixty-five million Americans are fully vaccinated, but about ninety million Americans are eligible for vaccines and still haven't gotten their first shot.
You know, I think there's a clear link between the lowest-vaccinated — I know — I don't think, actually — the lowest-vaccinated states and the states with the highest case rates.
This past week, the most vaccinated state in America, Vermont, has seen just five new cases — five — per day of COVID-19 for every 100,000 people who live in that state. That means, on any given day, only 30 people in the entire state of Vermont got COVID-19.
Nearby Maine, which has vaccinated almost 80 percent of their adults, has seen just six new cases per 100,000.
But the states with the lowest vaccination rates are seeing 10 to 20 times as many new cases per 100,000 people. It's moving like wildfire through the unvaccinated community. And it's heartbreaking, particularly because it's preventable.
That's why we're doing everything we can to get more people vaccinated. And we're seeing real results.
In the past two weeks, we have seen a 55 percent increase in the average number of new people getting vaccinated every day.
In the last seven days alone, nearly 3 million Americans have gotten their first shot. That's the highest seven-day total in a month.
Importantly, over the past two weeks, the eight states with the highest current case rates have seen a doubling of the number of people newly vaccinated each day. The message is getting through, apparently.
Louisiana has seen a 212 percent increase in the average number of newly vaccinated people in that state per day, going from 3,600 to over 11,000 people vaccinated per day.
Arkansas is up 99 percent. Mississippi is up 125 percent. Alabama is up 186 percent — going from 3,200 to 9,150 people vaccinated per day. This will make a big difference.
These are encouraging signs. We have to continue our aggressive efforts to vaccinate the unvaccinated.
Last week, I announced additional steps to incentivize Americans to get vaccinated, including calling on states to offer $100 for anyone willing to step up and get a vaccination shot.
You know, and already Minnesota and New Mexico have done that. And North Carolina announced its 100-day incentive — its $100 incentive today.
Places that have offered the hundred thou- — the hundred thousand — (laughs) — the hundred dollars — that'd be really good. I'd go back and get vaccinated three times. (Laughter.) But all kidding aside, offered the $100 to get vaccination have seen an uptick of 25 percent of daily vaccination rates.
We also announced that small- and medium-sized businesses will be fully reimbursed for offering paid time off for their employees to get vaccinated and for them to take a child or a parent to get vaccinated.
And I announced some tough, sometimes unpopular steps to keep people safe and our economy strong. All federal workers must report their vaccination status or be subject to strict requirements. Any federal worker who does not attest to their vaccination status or is not vaccinated will be required to mask no matter where they work, test one to twice a week, socially distance, and generally will not be allowed to travel for work.
I directed my administration to take steps to apply similar standards to all federal contractors. If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated.
And I also directed the Pentagon to look at adding COVID-19 to the list of vaccinations that are required for our troops because others are required.
I approved the Department of Veterans Affairs to require doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who care for our veterans to be vaccinated.
And the good news is that now many are following the federal government's lead. In the past several days, states and local officials have come out to impose similar vaccination mandates.
And the private sector is stepping up as well. Even Fox has vaccination requirements. I want to thank Walmart, Google, Netflix, Disney, Tyson Foods for their recent actions requiring vaccination for employees.
Look, I know this isn't easy, but I will have their backs and the backs of other private and public sector leaders if they take such steps.
But others have declined to step up. I find it disappointing. And worst of all, some state officials are passing laws or signing orders that forbid people from doing the right thing.
As of now, seven states not only ban mask mandates, but also ban them in their school districts, even for young children who cannot get vaccinated. Some states have even banned businesses and universities from requiring workers and students to be masked or vaccinated.
And the most extreme of those measures is like the one in Texas that say state universities or community colleges could be fined if it allows a teacher to ask her unvaccinated students to wear a mask.
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