“We are in a life or death race with a virus that is spreading quickly and cases are on the rise again,” Biden said. “New variants are spreading, and unfortunately some of the reckless behavior we’ve seen on TV over the past few weeks means new cases are set to emerge in the weeks to come.”
Earlier today, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, expressed a sense of “imminent doom,” highlighting a picture similar to that of Europe a few weeks ago. Another wave of coronavirus infections is now sweeping the continent.
But Walensky said the latest virus figures in the United States show the average daily infection increased 10% over the past week, to nearly 70,000 a day. Hospitalizations have increased by more than 4% and deaths by almost 3%.
Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris in the background in the South Court auditorium of the White House, reiterated his call on governors, mayors and other local leaders not to ease restrictions on the mandatory wearing of masks .
“Please, this is not politics, reinstate the mandate if you drop it,” implored the president, adding that companies should also demand masks.
Republicans blame Biden for being too slow to reopen the economy and what they believe is too cautious an approach. “What America needs now is to completely reopen our economy and our classrooms,” Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Twitter.
Biden also announced that the federal government will ensure that, by April 19, the number of pharmacies where people can get vaccinated will double so that those eligible for the vaccine have a site for the vaccine within 5 miles. from their home.
Biden also said his administration was increasing the number of pharmacies participating in the federal immunization program from 17,000 to nearly 40,000 across the country and would establish a dozen additional mass immunization sites by April 19.
A new effort is also underway to fund community organizations to provide transport and assistance to the elderly and other groups deemed to be at high risk, such as people with disabilities, so that they can access vaccines, according to the report. President.
New York, the fourth most populous state, announced Monday that starting March 30, all residents of the state aged 30 or older will be eligible for the vaccine.
Federal officials report on Monday that more than 95 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine and that 52.6 million people have been fully vaccinated in the United States.
The coronavirus has killed nearly 547,000 people in the country and infected more than 30 million, according to the CDC.
A study released Monday by the CDC shows that mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are very effective in preventing COVID-19 under real conditions.
The study was conducted among nearly 4,000 healthcare workers, first responders and other essential workers in six US states between mid-December of last year and the middle of this month. The results showed that the risk of infection was reduced by 80 percent after one dose and 90 percent after two doses.
CDC Director Walensky, speaking at a White House COVID-19 response team briefing, said the study showed the two vaccines could be effective not only in symptomatic infections, but also in asymptomatic infections. She called it “extremely encouraging” and that it complements other recent studies.
Meanwhile, a World Health Organization report on the origin of the COVID-19 virus is being reviewed by 17 U.S. experts, according to the White House.
“We have made it clear that an independent and technically sound investigation is our goal, and once this is reviewed we will have an assessment of the progress made,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday. , to the press about the WHO report. .
WHO’s joint study with China on the origins of COVID-19 indicates that the virus was likely transmitted from bats to humans by another animal and that a lab leak in Wuhan was “Extremely unlikely” as the cause, according to media organizations which obtained a preliminary copy of the report.
“All the hypotheses are on the table and justify full and additional studies from what I have seen so far,” commented WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.