The president has hosted several events focused on national and global efforts to immunize more people and tackle the spread of variants, an opportunity to reset the administration’s messages after a series of announcements last week left behind. many Americans confused about the state of the virus.
The president will meet his coronavirus team in the Oval Office on Monday after spending the weekend reviewing the latest data and virtually preparing for the week ahead. The White House announced Monday afternoon that the country had reached the milestone of 70% of American adults receiving at least one Covid-19 vaccine – nearly a month after Biden’s initial target of reaching that benchmark by July 4. That number was not yet reflected in data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After updating Biden, the group of public health officials are expected to answer reporters’ questions. Although these appearances initially took place three times a week, they have been reduced in recent months as officials felt there were fewer updates to share. The recent wave of the Delta variant has changed that way of thinking.
The White House made the deliberate choice to hold its public briefing on Monday this week in the hopes of developing a clearer message line for the days to come. Officials spent the past week frustrated, believing they were not effectively communicating the latest information as they rolled out a series of new measures designed to slow the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Asked during a briefing with CNN about the White House’s messaging errors and what they plan to do, an official pushed back on the question, but said the administration would continue to use everything in its power to push vaccines – adding that the White House must change as the data changes.
The official reiterated that a national mandate for all Americans to get vaccinated is not under consideration, saying the White House has determined that it falls outside of Biden’s power as president.
But the official hasn’t ruled out a tougher mandate on federal workers that goes beyond the president’s announcement last week that federal employees must certify that they are vaccinated or face health measures. strict mitigation. It was only a first step, the official said, designed to make life more difficult for federal workers who refuse to be vaccinated. Biden has asked his team to take a close look at the authorities he has over federal workers, and the White House continues to examine all of those options, including within different sub-sets of the federal government.
But a senior administration official told CNN that some of the problems are caused by political decisions.
“I think there are governors in this country who put their political interests above public health,” said the senior administration official, without naming the governors.
A race to get back on track
Biden is scheduled to speak on Tuesday on increasing immunizations at home and abroad. The White House considers the global vaccination campaign more important than ever, an official said, given that it is a way to curb the spread of potential new variants that could reach the United States.
On Wednesday, Biden will meet with Dr. Eric Lander, director of the Office for Science and Technology Policy, to discuss his preparedness plan for future pandemics.
It’s possible the White House will add another coronavirus-related event to Biden’s schedule, depending on how the week unfolds.
Biden had once hoped to switch from the coronavirus to focus on other areas of his government agenda, including the bipartisan infrastructure deal that is making its way to Congress. But the pandemic has distorted those plans because millions of Americans have not been vaccinated and cases are increasing.
The renewed attention comes as the country grapples with the Delta variant, which is more contagious and can cause more severe disease than previous strains of coronavirus. The variant is spreading faster in areas of the country with low immunization rates and threatens to derail much of the country’s progress in the fight against the pandemic.
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed their masking recommendations and urged people vaccinated in parts of the country to resume wearing masks indoors in public spaces. CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said the agency now recommends people living in areas with “high” or “substantial” transmission of Covid-19 to resume wearing masks indoors.
The White House is racing to get the rest of the population vaccinated and continuously touts the safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines that have received emergency use authorization in the United States. More than 99.99% of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have not had a case of rupture resulting in hospitalization or death, according to the latest CDC data.
Vaccinations on the rise
The United States reported an additional 816,203 doses of Covid-19 administered on Sunday, which was the fifth day in a row recording more than 700,000 shots. The current seven-day average dose is 662,529 per day – the highest average since July 7.
According to the CDC, 49.6% of the US population is fully vaccinated. The number is 58.1% among Americans who are eligible for the vaccine aged 12 and older.
The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr Francis Collins, on Sunday attributed the increase in vaccinations to the increase in the number of new cases of the Delta variant.
“It can be a tipping point for those who have hesitated to say, ‘OK, it’s about time. “I hope that’s what’s going on,” Collins said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This is what desperately needs to happen if we are to put this Delta variant back in its place. “
A senior administration official also told CNN that the CDC now tracks more than hospitalizations in groundbreaking cases, although health officials previously told CNN they don’t track cases that don’t result in no hospitalization or death. The official says the CDC is using a vast network of healthcare workers, nursing homes and other facilities to gain insight into groundbreaking cases. The official added that they also maintain a “constant dialogue” with other countries on monitoring these types of infections.
This senior official declined to provide a more specific number on the number of people vaccinated he found contributing to the spread of Covid-19. They reiterated that they know it is possible, but still believe that people with breakthrough cases are less likely to spread it than those who are not vaccinated.
Asked about any concerns about the children returning to school this fall, a senior administration official said the White House is confident it will be able to contain the cases in school and expects to focus more this week on precautions schools can take. The administration official has made it clear that he does not want schools to consider reverting to virtual learning.
Regarding children wearing masks, the official added that he did not want children to be intimidated for wearing masks at school, but said it was more important that children were not exposed to the virus other people who do not wear masks.
This story has been updated with additional reports.