President Biden on Thursday pleaded with Americans to remain vigilant against the coronavirus, rallying states and private companies to support vaccination mandates in a bid to prevent an increase in cases.
“We are going in the right direction. We have essential work to do and we cannot give up now, ”Biden said in a White House speech. “I am calling for more businesses to step up. I call on more parents to get their children vaccinated when they are eligible. “
Mr Biden projected optimism amid a drop in the number of new cases from a devastating summer wave that has undermined the president’s commitment to weathering the pandemic and reducing the damage it has inflicted on economy and schools.
The United States now registers around 90,000 new infections a day, down more than 40% since August. Hospitalizations and deaths are also on the decline. Almost 70 percent of adults are fully immunized, and many children under the age of 12 will likely be eligible for the vaccine within a few weeks.
“It’s important, it’s important progress, but it’s not – now is not the time to let go,” Biden said. “We have a lot more to do.”
The president took the opportunity to warn that the pandemic is not yet over, an effort to avoid the mistake he made last July when he celebrated “virus independence” on July 4. . Nearly 2,000 Americans still die every day as the country heads into winter.
Mr Biden, noting “the 66 million, still an unacceptably high number of unvaccinated people,” sought to encourage private companies to implement vaccination mandates that have come under Republican attack.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican, issued an executive order earlier this week banning virtually any coronavirus vaccine mandate in the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, has threatened to impose fines on communities that impose vaccines on government employees, complicating the administration’s efforts to curb the pandemic.
“Vaccination requirements shouldn’t be another issue that divides us,” Biden said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration submitted the initial text of its temporary emergency standard to the Office of Management and Budget earlier this week. It must go through an interagency review process likely to last several weeks before it is issued to companies, and some companies have said they are waiting for the guidelines before implementing the mandates.
Mr Biden also spoke of the administration’s plans to distribute reminders to vulnerable Americans. The Food and Drug Administration has already cleared booster shots for many people who received their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago.
An FDA advisory committee is discussing Thursday whether to recommend that a third dose of Moderna vaccine be authorized for many vaccine recipients.
“Boosters are free, I repeat, free, available and convenient to obtain,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr Biden also said the FDA is still in the process of determining whether to authorize a vaccine for children aged five to 11 and is expected to make a decision “within the next few weeks.”